St. Cloud State University leaders recommend major cuts in degree programs, faculty

The Administrative Services Building at St. Cloud State University
St. Cloud State University is planning major cuts to majors, minors and faculty positions.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News

Updated May 7, 9:38 a.m. | Posted May 6, 8:10 p.m.

St. Cloud State University leaders are proposing major budget cuts to programs and faculty to address a budget deficit.

In a meeting with faculty on Monday, SCSU administrators recommended discontinuing 46 of the university’s 136 degree programs, including criminal justice, Spanish, gender and women’s studies, sociology, physics, environmental science and economics.

They also proposed cutting 50 of 85 minor degrees, including African American and American Indian studies. Fifty-seven faculty positions would be cut, or 13 percent of the total.

In an interview Monday evening, acting president Larry Lee said the cuts are necessary to address a structural budget deficit. The university lost $18 million last year and is projected to lose $5.5 million this year — a deficit made smaller by one-time state funding. Without it, SCSU’s net operating loss would have been $15 million, Lee said.

“We just can’t sustain the operation like that,” he said. “We have to align our expenses with our revenues, so we can continue to provide the type of experience that we’ve provided here for a long time.”

In his email to faculty and staff, Lee said higher education is facing “unprecedented struggles” — student enrollment declines, affordability concerns, a proliferation of higher education alternatives, public perception of college degrees and financial strains, among others.

“These circumstances negatively impact higher education, generally, and St. Cloud State University, specifically,” he wrote.

Lee said the university will focus on its 90 strongest academic programs, in which 90 percent of students are enrolled. 

“Students are speaking with their decisions — what programs are growing enrollment or not,” he said. “And we have some programs that just don’t have the enrollment that can support the amount of staffing that we have in that program.”

Students enrolled in the affected programs would still be able to complete their degrees, Lee said.

SCSU had one of its first enrollment increases this year in several years, Lee said, but continues to spend significantly more per year in instructional costs than other universities in the Minnesota State system.

The recommendations aren’t yet final, Lee said. The faculty union will respond to the administration with its comments within the next 10 days. 

Lee took over Sunday from President Robbyn Wacker, who stepped down last week, earlier than her planned departure of June 30. She told officials at Minnesota State that decisions about the university’s long-term operations should be made by leaders who will be there to manage the transition.

List of degree programs cut from St. Cloud State University

Degrees in italics have already frozen admissions to their programs

  • Criminal Justice Studies, BS

  • Criminal Justice Studies, MS

  • Gerontology, MS

  • Health and Physical Education, BS

  • Physical Education, BS

  • Rehabilitation Counseling, MS

  • Cultural Resource Management, MS

  • English Education, MS

  • English Studies, MA

  • Gender and Women’s Studies, BA

  • Global Studies, BA

  • History, MA

  • History, MS

  • Music Performance, BMUS

  • Music Teaching, BS (K-12)

  • Music Therapy, BS (not launched)

  • Music, BA

  • Sociology, BA

  • Spanish, BS

  • Studio Art, BFA

  • Writing Studies and Rhetoric, MA

  • Child and Family Studies: Family Studies, MS

  • Early Childhood Special Education, MS

  • Educational Administration and Leadership, SPEC

  • Educational Leadership and Technology, MS

  • Social Studies Education, MS

  • Biological Sciences, MA

  • Earth Sciences, BA

  • Electrical Engineering, MSEE

  • Environmental Engineering, BS

  • Environmental Science, BS

  • Environmental Studies, BS

  • Geography, BA

  • Geography, GIS, MS

  • Hydrology, BS

  • Manufacturing Engineering Technology, BS

  • Manufacturing Engineering, BS

  • Nuclear Medicine Technology, BS

  • Physics Education Grades 9-12, BS

  • Physics, BS

  • Physics/General Science Education Grades 5-12, BS

  • Software Engineering, PSM

  • Economics, BA

  • Entrepreneurship, BS

  • Hospitality and Tourism, BA

  • Public Administration, MPA

List of minor programs cut from St. Cloud State

Minors in italics have already frozen admissions to their programs

  • Applied Behavior Analysis

  • Athletic Coaching

  • Criminal Justice Studies

  • Gerontology

  • African American Studies

  • American Indian Studies

  • Arts - Entrepreneurship

  • Asian-Pacific American Studies

  • Chicano Studies

  • Conflict Management

  • Creative Writing

  • English Studies

  • E-Sports Broadcasting

  • Ethnic Studies

  • Film Production

  • Gender & Women Studies

  • German

  • Intercultural Communication

  • Linguistics

  • Music

  • New Media - Music and Art

  • Sociology

  • Teaching English as a Second Language

  • Early Childhood Education

  • Human Relations

  • Applied Analytics

  • Applied Mathematics

  • Career/Technical Ed: Communication

  • Career/Technical Ed: Construction

  • Career/Technical Ed: Manufacturing

  • Career/Technical Ed: Transportation

  • Environmental Studies

  • Forensic Science

  • Geography

  • GIS

  • Hydrology

  • Mathematics

  • Middle School Mathematics

  • Optics

  • STEM Education

  • Economics

  • Entrepreneurship  for Business Majors

  • Entrepreneurship  for Non-Business Majors

  • Esports Management for Business Majors

  • Esports Management for Non-Business Majors

  • Heritage Preservation (CMTY)

  • Hospitality & Tourism

  • Real Estate for Business Majors

  • Real Estate for Non-Business Majors

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