Apr 16, 2024 - News

Drake University cuts loom with key vote this week

A photo of Drake Unviversity.

Students currently enrolled in programs that could end at Drake University will be able to complete their degrees. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Drake University could phase out 10 academic programs starting this year under a recommendation before the school's Faculty Senate Wednesday.

Why it matters: Some of the programs on the chopping block help operate local amenities like the Drake Municipal Observatory and social initiatives like the Interfaith Youth Leadership Camp.

Catch up fast: The cuts are part of the university's effort to reduce millions of dollars in its upcoming budgets, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports.

  • The school announced its intention to eliminate the programs in March and asked affected faculty to submit "evidence that retaining the program is in the best interest of the institution."
  • The 4% of affected students would still be able to complete their degrees, ICD reports.

State of play: Astronomy and religion majors, as well as masters of public administration and accounting are among the proposed cuts.

What they're saying: The religion department helps bridge differences within the community, Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, (D-West Des Moines) who is also a minister, tells Axios. The changes could have broad impacts, she says.

Reality check: The current recommendations aren't as deep as originally proposed, Drake spokesperson Ashton Hockman tells Axios.

  • Instead of eliminating the entire religion program, for example, the school will continue to offer the study as a minor.

Zoom in: The updated recommendations mean that the interfaith camp and other local religion outreach initiatives will continue, Tim Knepper, a philosophy professor, tells Axios.

  • The observatory, which is a partnership with the city of Des Moines, is expected to continue operation even if the astronomy major ends, Hockman says.

Yes, but: The bulk of programming at the observatory is run by Drake, Ann Sobiech Munson, a city official, tells Axios.

  • The full impact of the cuts on the observatory remains uncertain, the Times-Delphic reports.

The big picture: There has been a wave of college closures across the U.S. in recent years. Erollment had been trending downward, and the pandemic accelerated the trend, Axios' Erin Doherty and Erica Pandey reported.

  • Further mergers and restructured operations are inevitable as pressures on tuition and student fee growth continue, Forbes reports.

What's next: Drake's final decision will be voted by the university's board of trustees in coming weeks and announced on April 29.

A photo of the Drake Observatory
Drake Municipal Observatory is located within the Waveland Golf Course. Photo: Courtesy of the Iowa Architectural Foundation
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