IUS votes to keep general studies despite budget cuts

IUS Horizon

After closing the central administrative offices for the School of Continuing Studies at IU Bloomington in June, the IUS General Studies Program remains on campus despite the discontinuation of Non-credit Programs.

The decision was made by an advisory board of deans after Indiana University allowed the eight regional campuses to continue some form of the programs.

Gilbert Atnip, former vice chancellor of Academic Affairs, said the closure was a money-saving measure.

“With the recession, we had seen a drop off in participation,” Atnip said. “We’ve discontinued our Non-credit Programs because they just weren’t paying for themselves. We felt we really needed to focus our resources on our academic programs.”

The advising offices for the General Studies Program are currently in the process of re-locating from Knobview Hall to University Center South.

Annette Wyandotte, associate vice chancellor of Academic Affairs,  said the main changes in the program would be a re-examination of exceptions allowed in the general studies degree.

Before the closure, students could model their degree requirements on other General Studies Programs in the IU system and use any exceptions allowed by other regional campuses.

“We want to bring the program in line with IU Southeast policies — a systematic process of how the requirements are met,” Wyandotte said.

Chris Cole, general studies senior, said he was concerned about the availability of classes for non-traditional students in the program and the elimination of some requirement exceptions for the degree.

“We have requirements we have to meet to graduate,” Cole said, “but it’s hard to get in those classes because the times they’re offered don’t always match up with a non-traditional student’s schedule.”

In regard to the requirement exceptions, Wyandotte said they are taking time with the program’s re-organization.

While considering possibilities for the future of the General Studies Program, Atnip said he requested many avenues of academic discourse, including an open proposal forum before an advisory board of deans.

“There are probably 300 to 400 students pursuing that degree [at IU Southeast],” Atnip said. “We didn’t want to do anything that would disrupt or make it more difficult for them to move forward with their studies.”

Several proposals for the program included a possible merger with the School of Arts and Letters.

Saundra Gordon, general studies manager and adviser,  said she is grateful the deans voted to keep the program.

“We really need to have this degree,” she said. “We have a lot of students who depend on us for our flexible program.”

Gordon said she hopes students will come to her with any questions or concerns.

“My students are the most important thing to me,” Gordon said, “so, during the transition, that is what I am really concerned about.”

Atnip said the office of Academic Affairs has tried to keep students aware of any and all changes to the program.

“We’ve tried to communicate with them,” Atnip said. “We’ve sent a couple letters. We’re getting ready to send another letter announcing the move.”

Atnip said he wants to reassure students in the General Studies Program.

“General studies is still here,” Atnip said. “We’re still offering the degree. From a student point of view, you really shouldn’t see any difference at all, except that we’ve moved the office.”

Atnip said he is confident in the future of the program.

“Even though this is a pretty big change for the campus, I think we’ve handled it well,” Atnip said. “I hope we’ve communicated to the general studies students that things are OK. General studies is alive and well and doing fine.”