January 29, 2023

The Financial Economics major, Entrepreneurship major, and the Organizational Leadership major have all been proposed for discontinuance. Unlike the six major discontinuances from the 2019-2020 school year, these proposals come from the faculty of the programs themselves. 

While the Entrepreneurship major will cease to be offered, there is an Entrepreneurship minor currently in development that will be open to students from all majors. The Business & Economics department views the program’s transition into a minor as a way for students from any major to apply an entrepreneurship perspective to their goals. 

“We believe that discontinuing the Entrepreneurship major and creating a minor in Entrepreneurship will allow us to equip more, not fewer, students with an entrepreneurial mindset,” reads the proposal to discontinue the Entrepreneurship major. 

Lori Askeland, Chair of the English Department and writer on behalf of the Educational Policies Committee (EPC), offered her perspective on the proposed Entrepreneurship minor.  

“To be an entrepreneur, you need to have a specific service or skill to offer (e.g., a Music major might want to start a music-related business) that would fit better as a minor that supports the skill development of the major.  So given our context, Entrepreneurship makes more sense as a minor open to all majors, where it can likely serve a lot more students more effectively,” Askeland said.

Entrepreneurship became a major at Wittenberg in 2014. The program has been small since its inception. While Accounting, Marketing, Management, and Finance typically house around 30-70 students, the Entrepreneurship major’s enrollment peaked in 2017 with 17 students as declared Entrepreneurship majors. As of 2019 there were only 13 Entrepreneurship majors compared to 51 in Finance and 35 in Management. There are eight Entrepreneurship majors in the class of ‘22, two majors in the class of ‘23, and only one major in the class of ‘24.

The Business & Economics department acknowledges that majoring in Entrepreneurship can lead to an uncertain future post-graduation.  

“A new graduate with an Entrepreneurship degree needs time to search for an idea and find start-up capital and life immediately following graduation will be uncertain indeed. Reluctance to declare the major is understandable,” the proposal continues.

Like all majors proposed for discontinuance, all currently declared Entrepreneurship majors will have the opportunity to complete all required classes for their degrees. The classes offered in the Entrepreneurship major will not disappear completely: “The two required entrepreneurship courses will continue to be offered for the minor, or new classes from the proposed minor can be substituted for them,” reads the proposal. 

Instead of transitioning to a minor, important principles from the Financial Economics major will be incorporated into the Finance major. Essentially, the Financial Economics major and the Finance major are combining into one major that only bears the name “Finance.” The admissions department believes that discontinuing the title of Financial Economics and instead offering a more broad Finance degree will be more appealing to prospective students. 

“It will blend both economic theory and modern finance in a manner that satisfies the needs of students who have broad career interests,” reads the proposal to discontinue the Finance major.

Like Entrepreneurship and Organizational Leadership, The proposed discontinuance of the Financial Economics major also has some ties to Wittenberg’s financial situation. 

 “The one that’s probably the most driven by fiscal reality is the dropping of Financial economics.  As I explained in my memo to the faculty:  The two majors are now quite similar so discontinuance of financial economics is a matter of efficient use of resources and non-duplication of programs,” said Askeland. 

The Financial Economics major came to Wittenberg in the spring of 2009. Its popularity severely declined once the Finance major was introduced and key faculty in the Department of Economics left Wittenberg or retired without replacement. Although there are currently very few Financial Economics majors at Wittenberg, graduates from this department have been enormously successful. 

“Historically, the Financial Economics majors often earn the highest starting salaries of all Wittenberg majors,” continues the proposal to discontinue the program. 

Current Financial Economics majors can expect a straightforward path to graduation. 

“In merging the two majors, we are not discontinuing any classes but, rather, are reallocating them. Therefore, current majors will be able to finish their degrees without special accommodations,” the proposal concludes. 

The Organizational Leadership (OL) major is neither combining with an existing major nor transitioning into a minor. Unlike most majors at Wittenberg, the Organizational Leadership major is only available for non-traditional students. The OL degree is housed in the Graduate and Professional Studies department, a department that was dissolved at the end of June 2020. The voting members of the Educational Policies Committee (EPC) unanimously support Provost Michelle Mattson’s recommendation to discontinue the major. 

Provost Mattson determined that only six students remain in the OL program. There was only one OL graduate in December of 2020. There will be three graduates in May 2021, one graduate in May 2022, and one graduate in May 2023. The remaining OL students will complete their degrees via special accommodation. 

One of the main reasons for the program’s recommended discontinuance is the small size of the program. 

“The annual report filed by GPS indicates a declining interest in the program. The college does not currently have resources available to increase recruiting efforts for the OL degree,” writes Lori Askeland on behalf of the EPC in the letter to discontinue the program. 

The Psychology department, Business & Economics department and Communication & Digital Media department have contributed faculty to the Organizational Leadership major. Chairs from all three departments were queried by Provost Mattson in regards to the future of the program. 

“All three indicated that they would prefer the program be discontinued and indicated that future non-traditional students could be served as well by the other majors at the University,” continues Askeland. 

Additionally, Dr. Wendy Wells, the instructor for the two core courses in the Organizational Leadership major currently lives in Wisconsin and is no longer a faculty member at Wittenberg. Dr. Wells agreed to continue to teach these courses but is unable to oversee the program. 

Wittenberg’s financial situation was considered by the faculty in all three of these programs. Askeland described the difference between last year’s program cuts and this year’s proposed discontinuances.

“These cuts are driven by faculty trying to make our programs best serve the needs of students given the realities of Wittenberg’s financial situation. EPC is a body composed of faculty and student representatives,” said Askeland.

The voices of professors in each respective department have been at the forefront of this discussion.

“We are inclined to believe that when professors in these departments are themselves seeking to eliminate and re-shape their degree offerings, they are in the best position to assess how to best use scarce faculty resources to meet student needs. So the sense I have on EPC is that there’s a stronger sense of comfort with these changes,” said Askeland.

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