Saint Mary's University in Winona announces plans to cut 11 majors

The campus of Saint Mary's University
The campus of Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in Winona.
Courtesy of Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

Saint Mary's University in Winona, Minn., says it is cutting nearly a dozen majors and will lay off 13 faculty members, as it grapples with a downturn in enrollment.

College enrollment has been dropping across the country, and officials at St. Mary's announced late Tuesday that they have 11 major programs that aren't financially sustainable. They include liberal arts staples like English, art, theater, history and music.

Other majors being eliminated are actuarial science, human services, international business, music industry, Spanish and theology. The school said it reached the decision after a "substantial review" process.

“The time to re-envision our future is now,” Father James P. Burns, president of Saint Mary's. said in a news release. “Higher education is experiencing major disruption, exacerbated by the pandemic and declining number of high school students. In this climate, few schools can continue business as usual.”

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Burns said the Catholic university will focus on business, technology and science, with offerings such as a nursing program Saint Mary's added last fall.

"And — as employers clearly state that they have a real need for excellent skills in areas such as communication, processing and analytics, ethics and organizational development — these will continue to be offered at Saint Mary’s through a revised general education common core curriculum designed to support the retained majors," the school announced.

The university said that students currently in the 11 degree programs slated for elimination will graduate with their degrees as the majors are phased out. Faculty cuts will be made starting in the 2023-2024 school year.

“Having to lay off high quality faculty is a true loss and will be felt across the university,” Burns said. "While we acknowledge this magnitude of change is never easy, we are committed to ensuring a quality education that leads to meaningful careers, that is responsive to what students and their families have told us and that are associated with the areas in which we can devote our resources.”

Saint Mary's University enrolls about 4,700 students in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. In addition to its Winona campus, it also offers programs in Rochester, Minneapolis and online.