A professor from Kennesaw State’s School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality planned to speak at a faculty senate meeting Monday, March 26, to ask for the senate’s backing in pushing the university to provide a fair review process to determine whether the program should be deactivated.
Jonathan Brown, a senior lecturer within the CSH program, said the university has not communicated any information about the status of the program to faculty since they made these announcements last year and that the university has not submitted a formal deactivation document for the program to the University System of Georgia.
Brown did not have the chance to address the entire faculty senate, but Interim Provost Linda Noble spoke on some of Brown’s concerns about the status of the program at the beginning of the faculty senate meeting.
The University College announced at the end of October 2017 that they would be terminating the CSH program and the funding would be shifted to a new hospitality program within the Coles College of Business.
University College Dean Lynn Disbrow originally announced in an email to students that the program’s curriculum would continue to be offered for three semesters. Later on the same day, Disbrow sent another email to students informing them that then-Provost Ken Harmon approved to continue the program through spring 2021 to give students the opportunity to finish their degrees in four years.
Noble confirmed during Monday’s faculty senate meeting that there is currently no formal documentation to say the program is deactivated, but she said the program is currently under review by the university and the USG.
“It’s not technically in a deactivation state, but we are obviously in a deactivation mode and have been since November,” Brown said. “Part of what I was going to talk about today [Monday] is that does set a really nasty precedent for other programs moving forward. You’re talking about doing a review now that we haven’t heard or seen anything about until you [Noble] showed up.”
Noble explained that the program is not currently under a comprehensive review, but instead a review by the USG and KSU to decide if changes that were made to the curriculum warrant a substantive change approval by the USG. She said they will decide the status of the program after they receive the results of the review, which she said she hopes to receive in the next two weeks.
Noble said that the review probably did not happen before she came back to the university to serve as interim provost because “a lot of people don’t know the policy around degree programs like I do.”
One of the major concerns Brown had about the announcement made in October was that they had to stop allowing new students to enroll in the program. He said that many interested students have come to the CSH program, but that they have had to turn the students down because of the announcement that the program was deactivated.
During the meeting, Brown brought up this concern to Noble, asking if the program could start enrolling new students again.
“I am not in favor of doing that right now,” Noble said. “I think it’s a very good decision to be cautious about admitting new students. We’re going to make a decision very quickly.”
Brown was also concerned with advising holds the university started putting on students that are enrolled in the CSH program in January. Brown said students have to meet with an adviser every semester and sign a contract that says they will have their degree completed by spring 2021.
Brown said he is concerned this may have scared CSH students and caused them to drop out of the program.
CSH Director Christian Hardigree said that they had 221 students enrolled in the program before the university put the academic hold on students in January. After the hold was placed on students, the number of students enrolled dropped to 197.
Hardigree said the university then issued a moratorium to prevent CSH students from changing their majors to integrative studies, and KSU stopped allowing the CSH program from accepting new students.
“I do not know how many more students are changing their majors after the moratorium is lifted, but there is a list,” Hardigree said.
Brown said that those within the CSH program are completely willing to go through a review and possible deactivation process and that they fully support the new program being put together within the Coles College of Business, but he believes the decisions about the status of the program are being made without the faculty.
Noble said during the faculty senate meeting that if there were an overall review of the program, the faculty would be involved in the discussion.
“At the end of the day, the people who are supposed to dictate the direction of any university is supposed to be the faculty,” Brown said. “The faculty is who owns the curriculum. The faculty is who owns the long-term growth of a university.”
Megan Butler contributed to this story.