The University of North Carolina Wilmington will proceed to make a case for adding three new doctoral programs to its offerings, UNCW chancellor Gary Miller said this week.
That push comes despite a consulting firm’s recommendation to the UNC Board of Governors that only one be approved.
Last year, UNCW officials asked the UNC system administration for authorization to offer new doctoral programs in marine science, psychology and nursing practice. A subsequent assessment of all campus mission statements by Collective Brain Trust University Consultants (CBT), a firm hired by the UNC system, recommended that only the nursing practice program be approved because other UNC campuses offer similar doctoral programs in marine science and psychology.
“The Board of Governors is legitimately concerned about program duplication, but we believe that some doctoral programs have value even when they are duplicative,” Miller said Tuesday. “The ones we have talked about are unique and special for this region.”
Currently, UNCW has only two doctoral programs: one in marine biology – not as broad a focus as marine science would be – and one in educational leadership.
To reflect the desired change, UNCW had submitted a redrafted mission statement, changing its description of its programs from “an array of high-quality programs at the baccalaureate and master’s levels, and … doctoral programs in marine biology and educational leadership” to “high quality baccalaureate, master’s and select doctoral programs.”
The revised mission statement accompanied the university’s request for the new programs.
In its recently released report, CBT acknowledged that a Doctor of Nursing Practice program at UNCW could have value for the region, especially because there is a growing emphasis in the profession on the doctorate rather than the master’s degree. The consultants, however, did not recommend approval for a new Ph.D. program in marine sciences or psychology, as UNCW officials had requested.
UNC-system president Tom Ross agreed. In his letter of transmittal of the CBT report, he recommended the board’s approval of a mission statement for UNCW that mentioned adding a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program but not the other two.
The UNC system, faced with rising costs and decreasing support from the state, is looking for strategies that will lower costs while increasing educational effectiveness and maintaining quality. One strategy is to reduce duplicative programs within the system.
Miller said that all three requested programs align well with UNCW’s mission, which is primarily one of undergraduate education with a strong commitment to research. He also believes that, over time, an institution’s mission can change.
The chancellor also said that, while UNCW intends to move forward at some point with consideration of the marine science and psychology programs, there are many ways in which that goal could be accomplished, including collaborating with other schools within the system to develop a program shared by several campuses.
“These programs, we believe, are very important to UNCW, but our mission statement opens up the possibility of more collaboration,” Miller said. “Doctoral programs are expensive, and enrollment is low.”
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