Johnson C. Smith University will close its Department of Education after the 2015-2016 academic year because of declining enrollment.
The decision was made following a comprehensive review of all academic and selected non-academic programs in 2011-2013, the University said in a statement released this week to reporters.
The findings indicated clearly that the department was no longer financially viable, the statement read.
Only eight students graduated this year with a degree in education, according to the university. The school had 40 education majors as recently as 2011-2012.
Students currently enrolled in the department will be allowed to complete their degrees.
The closing marks a symbolic shift in the educational landscape for historically black colleges and universities, which once churned out a steady stream of teachers. JCSU said that while the department was consistent with the historical mission of the university, contemporary realities had begun to erode the strength and viability of the department.
In an interview with WBTV, JCSU Chief Operating Officer Elfred Anthony Pinkard says the decision was painful but was the responsible thing to do. He said fewer students are interested in teaching because of low teacher pay.
"Members of the minority groups, like every other citizen want to be able to pursue livelihood that gives them the kind of compensation they can make a way for themselves and their family," he told the television station.
Pinkard also expressed concern that the closure would mean fewer minority teachers.
Here is the JCSU statement in its entirety:
Why are we closing the Department of Education?
A comprehensive review of all academic and selected non-academic programs occurred in 2011-2012. Each program was evaluated based on four indicators; mission, program quality, financial viability and marketability. The comprehensive review involved every constituent group at the University, including alumni. The Comprehensive Academic Review specifically noted that while the existence of the Department of Education was consistent with the historical mission of the University, contemporary realities had begun to erode the strength and viability of the department. Most notably, the findings revealed low numbers of students entering the University with an interest in majoring in education.
The findings indicated clearly that the department was no longer financially viable.
Based on the findings of the review, a recommendation emerged to close the Department of Education in academic year 2015-2016. The recommendation was accepted and approved by the Board of Trustees. Subsequent meetings were held with all students enrolled in programs in the Department of Education, and the University developed and submitted, as required by SACS, a Teach-Out Plan which specifically outlined the options provided by the University to assure that every student completed their course of study as originally planned. The Teach-Out Plan was accepted by SACS and the Department of Education will close at the end of academic year 2015-2016 allowing every student currently enrolled to graduate.
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