Clinical Science Program eliminated at WCU, but not in 2011

In order to become more efficient and prepare for drastic budget cuts for the 2011-12 school year, the UNC System axed 60 programs across the state in March across its 17 campuses. Ten universities saw program eliminations according to a released report by system officials, which also had Western Carolina University as losing a degree offering.

The report listed the Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) program as being cut this year, which was being offered as a Bachelor of Science degree under the College of Health and Human Sciences, but the program was actually done away with in 2008. The degree prepared students for employment in all phases of laboratory medicine leading to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Dr. James Scifers, Director of the College of Health and Human Sciences, said he had seen a few news reports that listed the CLS program as being a part of the latest round of cuts by the UNC System, but that nobody contacted him prior to verify the report released.

“The CLS program actually closed in 2008 and the students that were still in the program at that time graduated in May of 2010,” Scifers said. “I suppose it showed up on the report because there was no enrollment, but we decided during the last budget reduction that it was not feasible to continue the study after the group of students we had.

“We have not enrolled any new students in the CLS program since 2006,” Scifers added.

Alan Mabe, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs for the UNC System, confirmed the CLS program was cut locally by WCU in 2008, but appeared on the report earlier this month as part of a biannual program review.

“Every two years we identify programs whose enrollment is low and discuss with affected campuses whether or not the program should be outright discontinued or merged with other degree programs,” Mabe said. “It was decided by Western Carolina that the CLS program would be discontinued because the program matched criteria set by the UNC System Board of Governors as being unproductive and there was not a degree present for it to be merged with.”

The criteria set by the Board’s Committee on Educational Planning, Policies and Programs to identify bachelor programs for productive review is “the number of degrees awarded in the last two years is 19 or fewer—unless upper division enrollment in the most recent year exceeds 25, or degrees in the most recent year exceed 10.”

Scifers said alternatives have been looked at to bring back the CLS program, but it is not a priority at this time.

“We have looked at some alternatives to bring the program back because it is an important degree and is underfunded across the country, but right now we do not have the financial resources and can’t incorporate it with another degree,” said Scifers. “It’s a long term goal though and we are considering grants as possibly being a way to have the program again.”

(This story first appeared on the Western Carolina Journalist.)