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HPU to adjust academic programs and related staffing based on budget outlook

HPU Old Main Tower PlazaBROWNWOOD – November 8, 2018 – Howard Payne University recently announced plans to reduce or otherwise modify selected academic programs to strengthen the institution’s footing in an increasingly challenging higher-education landscape. The moves were unanimously approved by HPU’s Board of Trustees at a meeting on November 2.

While the university’s long-term financial standing is stable due to a strong endowment and prudent resource management as demonstrated by the Board of Trustees, in recent years the annual operating budget has been strained due to a range of underpopulated courses and decreased external scholarship assistance for students.

The curriculum revisions were the result of a lengthy evaluation process prompted by decreased resources and other difficult trends in faith-based education.

“While there may be little comfort in this reality, our challenges are not unique,” said Dr. Paul W. Armes, HPU’s interim president. “There is simply no way for tuition-driven colleges to live beyond their means. That trajectory must change if these institutions are to move forward positively.”

HPU’s leadership has been facing these challenges for several years but sought other means to address them, due to the reality that personnel are connected to the programs that would be eliminated.

“This is a very painful process,” said Dr. Armes. “These changes are not a negative reflection on any individual employee or academic area but are simply realities we must face if we are to be responsible in our budgeting.”

After considering underperforming majors, the board acted to close 10 majors/minors and reconfigure seven others. All students with affected degree plans have been notified of these changes and the university will honor the curriculum that each student started. If a student wishes to change to another major at HPU or transfer to another institution, advisors and deans will give necessary assistance.

As a result of the program reorganization and realignment, the university closed one full-time administrative support position and 12 full-time faculty positions, including two faculty positions that were already planned to be vacancies in the next fiscal year.  All personnel who will be leaving the institution as a result of program closures will be provided with transition assistance.

The following majors/minors (listed by school) have been eliminated due to program realignment:

• Christian Studies – Biblical Languages (to be merged with the Bible major), Cross-Cultural Studies (to be merged with the Christian Education major)
• Humanities – Master of Science in Criminal Justice, Spanish (changing from major to minor)
• Music and Fine Arts – Art (changing from major to minor), Church Music and Worship (to be merged with the Bachelor of Arts – Music), Journalism, Music Performance (to be merged with the Bachelor of Arts – Music), Piano Pedagogy (to be merged with the Bachelor of Arts – Music)
• Science and Mathematics – Forensic Science

Not all of the above closures required personnel changes, and those individuals facing transition have already been notified.

Additionally, curricular realignments are being made in all academic areas to move toward greater efficiency and effectiveness. The following are specific areas (listed by school) with adjustments made at this time:

• Business – Master of Business Administration
• Education – Master of Education in Sport and Wellness Leadership
• Music and Fine Arts – Theatre
• Science and Mathematics – Computer Information Systems, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering Science

“The board looked at several options,” said Dr. Armes. “In the end, the trustees approved the most compassionate and minimalist course they felt that they could. From my perspective, their action was careful, considered and generous.”

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