The physics program at Emporia State has been given a second chance, but there is still a possibility that it could be discontinued if they don’t come up with an acceptable plan to increase enrollment and become more cost effective by Dec. 22.
The dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Brent Thomas, and one of the full-time professors in the physical sciences department, Jorge Ballester, are confident that the department’s plan will be viable.
However, discontinuances do happen. In fact, ESU’s Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, or TESOL, graduate program was discontinued as of this fall, according to chair of the academic affairs committee Cynthia Kane.
So, here are some important things to understand about what would happen if the physics major was discontinued.
While the program would not be able to accept any new students once it is discontinued, those who have declared a physics major would be able to finish out their degrees.
“Universities are not going to abandon the students that are already here,” Thomas said. “If that should happen, they’re going to get grandfathered through. We’re going to make sure that they’re taken care of and that they’re going to graduate with what they came here to do.”
This would include not only seniors who only have a semester left, but also first year students who are still taking general education courses. Any student who has officially declared their major as physics before the discontinuance would be grandfathered through, according to Thomas.
Generally, a university would give students at least three years to complete their degrees but would grant them more time if needed, according to Thomas.
The most prominent areas of the department to be affected once these students have graduated would be the professors who teach physics and the classes that the university would be able offer.
Since physics would no longer be offered as a major, certain classes would not be offered anymore.
Not all of the physics classes would be canceled, though. Some courses, such as Space Science, would need to be kept to fulfill general education requirements across the majors, according to Ballester.
Additionally, some physics courses are required for non-physics majors, such as education majors, and those would need to be kept.
“It’s always going to be the upper-division, major-specific classes that are in danger, that you can’t teach them on a regular basis,” Ballester said.
If those upper-division classes are cancelled, less staff will be needed to teach the few courses that are left.
Thomas explained that the discontinuance of the program could lead to the termination of current faculty members in his recommending the discontinuance.
However, this doesn’t mean that the entire department would be terminated.
“We would not be in a situation where everyone who teaches physics has to leave,” Thomas said.
The number of faculty members who would be terminated would depend on the number of staff retiring and the number of staff taking positions elsewhere, according to Thomas.
Ultimately, the decision on which classes to stop offering and how many faculty members to terminate would be made by the department of physical sciences.