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Western Michigan University intended to welcome students back to campus Sept. 2, 2020 thanks to steps outlined in the Safe Return Plan.

Western Michigan University’s Board of Trustees voted to remove a major and minor for the upcoming academic year during their Thursday, March 18 meeting. Satish Deshpande, dean of the Haworth College of Business, said the removal was in response to the marketplace.

“When you come into a program, you want a state of the art program where there’s a demand in the marketplace,” Deshpande said. “It’s like selling products. You could be selling the best VCRs out there, but the market doesn’t want VCRs anymore. They’ve moved on to other things.”

The Health Informatics and Information Management (HiiM) major and the Automotive Systems minor were the programs removed for next year. Desphande said changes like these in programs are a healthy sign of an institution. 

“Change is happening all the time,” he said. “Not only are we adding, but we are transforming the existing programs too.”

The Automotive Systems currently has no students enrolled and the HiiM major has under 10 students enrolled, as they both froze admissions. Despande said the students that are currently enrolled in the program will be able to finish their degree.

He added there are three areas the Haworth College of Business is pushing their students towards, cybersecurity, cloud computing and business analytics. These come from the increase in jobs in the workforce and higher pay for graduates.

Additionally, the Haworth College of Business and the College Health and Human Services have been working together to create a Health Management program to help better prepare students for the workforce.

“We didn’t have too many students in the program,” he said. “What we did was, as we work on the Health Management program, health analytics will be a part of that. We are focused on not just a small slice, which is health care.”

Steve Carr, interim chair of Automotive Systems, said the faculty member who ran the program retired several years ago. Since then, courses have not been offered and the program stopped accepting new students. 

Carr explained the budget for the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences has been consistently reduced for 18 years. The cut in 2020 was around 24%. He said the college deals with budget cuts by removing faculty positions.

“So the faculty's salary and benefits become the budget cut,” Carr said. “Nobody loses their job, but we don’t get to replace the faculty.”

The College of Engineering lost roughly 20 professors last year due to retirements and resignations. This meant the college didn’t have to lay people off due to the large amount of retirements, Carr said.

“Every university is experiencing exactly what we’re going through,” Carr said. “We have to accept what has happened and try to move forward to see what we can do to offer the best programs we can.”

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