A Funeral For Academics march drew a large crowd for a walk around the University of Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Friday, March 23, 2012. (RICK CHASE / Courier Staff Photographer)

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- The sun had just started peeking through dark clouds as more than 100 people made the somber procession from Seerley Hall to the University of Northern Iowa campanile.

The Funeral for Academics, hosted by Students United for Academics, joined together students, faculty, staff and members of the Malcolm Price Laboratory Community as they remembered the degree programs recently approved for termination by the Iowa Board of Regents.

"I don't believe anybody here today is ready to say good-bye to the programs and their professors," Nicole Shepard, a senior finance major, said during her eulogy for the programs.

Instead, she encouraged those in attendance to celebrate the times they shared and the friendships they made.

"If the era of education must end, keep the legacy alive," she said. Linda Heinzel, a Malcolm Price Laboratory School parent, was quick to point out that there was one too many tombstones resting against the base of the Campanile.

With the help of Barb Schilf, another PLS parent, the two broke the "stone," and threw the pieces aside. Heinzel, dressed as a doctor, told the crowd a group of dedicated professionals was working around the clock to save the school after the administration took her off life support.

Sophomore Sarah Jackson became visibly emotional as she addressed the crowd.

"My program has been cut. I am scared about my future," she said. "We must stand together to make this university great where our administration has failed us."

Jackson said she likely won't return to Cedar Falls next year. Instead, she is making plans to transfer to Iowa State University.

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"I could finish here, but my professors won't be here," she said.

Fred Halgedahl, an associate professor in the School of Music, applauded the students in attendance for their courage.

"We will stand with you all the way to Des Moines," he said.

Later Halgerdahl said he wished more students would take an active role in saving the university.

"This is a pivotal point in the history of this university and we must win this fight," he said.

Tyler Sharp, a senior in communications, said he walks by the "I am UNI" statements, part of the university's marketing campaign, every day in Lang Hall.

But, now, he said, there is one "I am" statement missing.

"I am disappointed in my college," he said to a round of applause.

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