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Michigan State to Close Academic Departments

Michigan State University (MSU) has completed cutting the fat from its budget and is now cutting into the bone. In the wake of vastly reduced state funding, a grim fact that virtually all public universities are facing, MSU has announced tentative plans to axe not only degree programs but entire departments. The protests are underway.

Despite the call for an educational structure to support the sustainability movement, MSU intends to close six of the thirteen departments in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Among them would be the Earth Sciences Department, the school's focal point for environmental and green degrees. The Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders would also be shut down, a small but significant research and teaching division for audiology and the role of communication in child psychology.

A lot of students in graduate programs were in shock over the potential vaporization of their field of study. As an example there is a graduate program in American Studies slated for elimination, but MSU won't close down some of these programs immediately because of their obligation to currently enrolled students. The substantial budget savings are two to three years out.

Given all of the debate about the current cost of public universities, where the average annual tuition is over $7,000, the option of online education continues to make more sense. When you add up the cost of living near school and having limited employment options, the debts that emerging graduates are asked to shoulder seem unrealistic.

Additional casualties in MSU's current plan are the veterinary technologist program, a field that has become a mainstream option for many community college students and now, an option at the four year degree level. There are also six hundred staff jobs that will be eliminated; the future of tenured professors in these departments has yet to be explained.

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