CONWAY, Ark. – Students at the University of Central Arkansas are rallying in support of a program in danger of being shut down.
The Bachelor of Arts in African and African American studies program has had only a handful of graduates in three years. Now, the school is trying to change that before it’s too late.
A memo from university president Houston Davis was sent out to staff and students Monday morning explaining enrollment in the program was so low, it’s now in danger of being cut.
The announcement comes after the university’s yearly review of departments and programs as required by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education Coordinating Board. As of this week, there were only 13 students working towards a degree: 6 majors and 7 minors.
The State requires that bachelors’ programs graduate 6 students on average over the course of 3 years. The A/AAS program had an average graduation rate of 1.7 a year from 2019 to 2021.
Now, the college has two years to up enrollment before the program is “deleted”, with quarterly check-ins to watch numbers and interest.
Students on campus are now throwing their support behind the threatened program and are encouraging classmates to get involved. Saylor Travis is not surprised by the low numbers but would like to see more join.
“There’s not a whole lot of traction to the African American programs here. It’s very unfortunate” Travis said. “In terms of students, I think that we need to keep advocating.”
International student Akhil Johnbosco was also saddened by the news but believes there are ways to save the degree and the knowledge that comes with it.
“Make some of the classes that are the African American studies common for other majors and offer it as a duel-major program,” Johnbosco recommended, adding that he thinks the program is vital and shouldn’t be shut down.
A petition had been circulating among students and staff recommending the school work to keep the program up and running, but Travis adds she would like to see the administration do more to promote the program in addition to student effort.