FOR RELEASE: Jan. 30, 2019
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GREAT FALLS, MONTANA – When transitioning from active leadership, the Sisters of Providence stated in their visionary document Hopes and Aspirations for Providence Ministries: “We expect Providence Ministries to search for new ways to carry out the Mission, honoring Providence tradition, but not letting past practice constrict the vision of what is best for the future. Changing needs, social structures and institutions will require new and different responses.”
If the university is to continue its ministry, the University of Providence must recognize the present challenges facing higher education and adapt accordingly. UP must also continue to be responsible and faithful stewards of the resources entrusted to our care for the ministry. Guided by these two obligations, the university has evaluated the academic and athletic programs offered at the University of Providence and have become aware of programs that are, for the present, difficult to sustain.
“We are sensitive to the pain that these decisions will have on various members of our university community, their families and the wider community,” says Tony Aretz, president. “We will find ways to honor their legacy and express our deep gratitude for their dedicated service and professionalism. We promise whatever assistance the university community can provide to accompany those directly affected by these decisions as they discern their future.”
The recommendations of program closures will be submitted to the Board of Trustees on Feb. 14 where a final decision will be made. At present, 19 programs, including undergraduate and graduate, are being submitted to the board. Nearly 30 undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as dozens of concentrations will remain in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Health Professions.
“UP is in a time of pruning and planting,” says Aretz. “We recognized that it was necessary to update and improve basic infrastructure to attract and retain students – the renovated Student Center and new University Center are part of that process. At the same time, the university has to focus its investment in the programs that will yield that greatest outcomes for students and result in financial stability. Some areas are seeing planting, while others are being pruned to maximize future harvest.”
It’s important to note that any student enrolled in a program that is set to be closed will be given the opportunity to complete their program. The faculty in the impacted programs are working with individual students to design teach-out plans that will provide the courses the students need to complete their academic programs. The university has a number of options available to it to make sure students will get the courses they need to graduate. Also, any student who is affected by an athletic program closure will maintain their scholarships should they choose to continue at UP as a full-time student.
The process for sunsetting particular programs has been ongoing for two years. The university relied on data collected from the university-wide analysis by Stevens Strategies last year. When Matt Redinger, provost, came on board July 1, it became clear that the existing data set needed to be augmented. Redinger called together a Program Prioritization Advisory Council (PPAC) comprised of faculty from each division within the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences to guide the process. Relying on that faculty input, the provost and the PPAC assembled a list of criteria that the provost used to make the initial recommendations to the president. Criteria influenced by the PPAC and implemented by the provost include a variety of elements, including programs’ numbers of majors, mission orientation, fiscal impact, market competitiveness, distinctiveness, and contributions to university’s other programs and to the liberal arts core curriculum.
The refocusing of the institution and its resources is not specific to academics. David Gantt, vice president for athletics, has been working diligently with the UP athletics administrative staff to assess all athletic programs under the perspective of value added sustainability. They continue to optimize the list of sports that will accompany the university into the future. At this time, Men’s Lacrosse will be sunset at the end of this academic year. Students will maintain their scholarships should they choose to continue at UP as full-time students.
“This is a challenging, yet productive process,” says Gantt. “Since my arrival we have been evaluating all programs to determine the most relevant, financially prudent, and thus sustainable options for the future of the university.”
Moving forward, the university will invest fiscal resources in programs that will meet the changing demands. By refocusing the university, UP will have the financial resources the university needs to invest in state-of-the-art academic and athletic programs that will become hallmarks for the next chapter in the storied history of the University of Providence.
“The university is dedicated to the students and faculty of the institution and will accompany them through this transition,” says Redinger. “While these programs are being sunset, it doesn’t mean we won’t consider relaunching them in the future if enrollment were to grow and the demands of society deem it necessary.”
The University of Providence is, and will remain, a Catholic liberal arts university. The university is relying on its robust core curriculum, required of all students who graduate from UP, to provide our students will the skills and dispositions that the liberal arts cultivate in a well-rounded educated person.
The University of Providence is a private Catholic university located in Great Falls, Montana. Founded in 1932, the university includes both a School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a School of Health Professions. For more information, go to www.uprovidence.edu.