Religious University To Ax Religious Studies Program Due To ‘Low Enrollment’

Screenshot/Marymount University/YouTube

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Kate Anderson Contributor
Font Size:

A Catholic university in Virginia is looking to ax theology and religious studies as well as nine other majors for newly enrolled undergraduates to achieve the college’s “strategic goals,” according to the Chronicle for Higher Education.

Marymount University (MU), a private liberal arts college, announced that the school was considering eliminating or revising 10 majors due to low enrollment and financial reasons, according to the Chronicle. MU President Irma Becerra rejected attempts to simply revise some of the programs instead of just removing them and sent the proposal to the university’s Board of Trustees, which will vote on the plan on Feb. 24. (RELATED: Twelve New York Catholic Schools Set To Shut Down: Archdiocese)

The plan was first proposed by the Academic Policy, Budget, and Planning Committee before being reviewed by the Faculty Council, which suggested that the university keep seven of the programs and revise six others, according to the Chronicle. Becerra disagreed, saying in a letter to the council’s president that MU’s majors need to “more closely align with the strategic goals of the institution.”

“True to our mission, all university programs will continue to be grounded in the liberal arts and focused on the education of the whole person,” Becerra said in the letter. “MU cannot financially sustain offering majors with consistently low enrollment, low graduation rates, and lack of potential for growth.”
Students walk on campus at the University of South Carolina on September 3, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina.

COLUMBIA, SC – SEPTEMBER 03: Students walk on campus at the University of South Carolina on September 3, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Many MU alumni were not supportive of Becerra’s decision and started a petition asking the Board of Trustees to reject the proposal to protect the Catholic school’s mission.

“Alumni have felt strongly that the elimination of these programs will harm Marymount’s mission which emphasizes intellectual curiosity, service to others, and a global perspective,” the petition read. “Eliminating these programs from Marymount University would have far-reaching consequences for society and would hinder the development of well-rounded, thoughtful individuals capable of making meaningful contributions to their communities. It is essential to advocate for the preservation of these majors at MU.”

Some students in the 10 programs in the proposal were informed on Feb. 16 via email that their majors would be phased out until “all current students graduate,” according to the Chronicle. The programs in question are theology, religious studies, philosophy, mathematics, art, history, sociology, English, economics, secondary education and humanities.

Nick Munson, MU director of communications, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the school’s mission is unchanged.

“We will continue to prepare students for in-demand careers by offering them a robust education grounded in the liberal arts,” Munson said. “However, Marymount is indeed making changes to better position the University for long-term growth and success. One of those is investing in programs with growth potential, aligned with student demand, to give Marymount a competitive advantage. Marymount will reallocate resources from those programs to others that better serve our students and reflect their interests.”

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact