The university, which was founded in 1957 through the merging of Hartford Art School, The Hartt School, and Hillyer College, charged two task forces comprised of faculty and administrative staff to evaluate its departmental offerings, taking into account national and the university's growth trends.
In an internal report completed last summer, the task forces found that some programs were no longer sustainable given the institution's resources. The proposed changes represent the financial needs of the institution rather than the philosophical scope of an academic mission and, indeed, the university's creative pedigree. According to Inside Higher Ed,
Hartford’s consideration of financial viability as an important criterion in which programs to cut and in which to invest also reflects a notion — much-discussed at this year’s annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Business Officers -- that academic decisions can’t be made independent of financial realities. Most non-elite private colleges and universities like Hartford depend on tuition revenue to fund the bulk of their operations, and many on the finance side of higher education argue that universities need to emphasize the programs that will attract and retain students while cutting those that are not essential to a university's mission and that lose revenue.
The news comes on the heals of Emory University's announcement that it plans to eliminate four departments, including visual arts and journalism.
UHart's 40 academic programs on the chopping block for "divestment," include the bachelors of arts in economics, modern languages, and gender studies, and minors in health studies, religious studies, and fine arts.
The 17 departments that could benefit from the pruning include the university's undergraduate biology, communication, psychology, and nursing programs in addition to its M.B.A, admissions department, and distance learning.
In all, the reallocation represents $7 million of UHart's $150 million operating budget.