ASU to end golf management program

Students in ASU’s professional golf management program were shocked to learn last week that their program is being disestablished.

The program, which is one of 20 in the country and one of six west of the Mississippi River, was proposed for disestablishment in 2008, but students voiced their concerns then and prevented it from happening.

“Last time, when we were on the chopping block, we were able to voice our opinions and go to the Arizona Board of Regents,” said Kevin Hildebrand, golf management senior and Professional Golf Management Club president. “This time it didn’t even go through ABOR, it just came straight through the President’s Office. We didn’t have any idea it was happening. It came as a 100 percent, complete shock.”

Any degree program proposed for disestablishment must be presented to the Arizona Board of Regents Academic Affairs Committee. The PGM program, however, is a concentration offered under the agribusiness degree in the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness, which is part of the W. P. Carey School of Business.

The University has jurisdiction over which concentrations are offered within a degree, so ASU does not need ABOR approval to disestablish the program.

Morrison School Director Jeffrey Englin informed students on Tuesday that their program was being disestablished, but they were not given much of an explanation at the time, Hildebrand said.

“Monday afternoon we got an email that said we had a meeting Tuesday, and on Tuesday we were addressed by Director Englin of the Morrison School, and he told us pretty bluntly, ‘Your program is being disestablished,’” Hildebrand said. “Then he said ‘are there any questions?’ and a lot of people were just so upset about it and started [questioning] him.”

On Friday, students and alumni met with business school Executive Dean Amy Hillman to get their questions answered, and were told the program was cut for monetary reasons.

“The program is ending because the University is faced with additional cuts from the Legislature that tuition and fee increases did not make up for, so it’s part of the budget cuts we’re forced to make right now,” she said. “In the W. P Carey School of Business in particular, we’ve pursued a lot of other cuts already. Now we’re at the point that we have to look at programs, especially those with low enrollment and high costs.”

Students have through fall 2014 to finish their degree before the program is officially disestablished. This will allow enough time for all current students to graduate, assuming they stay on track.

Following commencement next month, nearly 100 students will continue in the program, but an additional 67 admitted, incoming freshman are being rerouted to other majors at ASU or other universities entirely.

“There’s 20 schools that offer this program, and of the other 19, our director Mark Black has spoken with 16 of their directors so far, and they are all helping look at students transferring over to their programs,” Hillman said. “There are two other programs that are within the Western University Exchange, which means if you are an in-state student, your tuition at those institutions is significantly reduced.”

Hildebrand said this is one of several reasons current students were extremely upset with the decision.

“Students are signed up to be here in three months or so, coming for their freshman year of college, and they just found out on Tuesday they have no program,” he said. “This program is the only thing that had me ever looking at ASU, and most students that go into this major just look at schools that have this degree program.”

Another main concern is for the quality of education for continuing students, PGM freshman Scott Glenn said.

“Our concern is, knowing the program is being disestablished, that the quality of education that we receive… is going to stay up to par and the resources we have are not going to diminish over the last years,” he said.

Hillman assured students no more cuts would come to their program, but was unable to give them anything more than her word that this would be the case, Glenn said.
“Their program will remain in place with no cuts to services,” Hillman said. “We’re committed to offering all the golf courses for the next 3.5 years.”

Students remained frustrated, however, and said they plan to continue fighting disestablishment.

“We feel it’s not the best way it could have been handled,” Glenn said. “Everyone is upset and we’re fighting it and seeing if there’s anything we can possibly do to stop this.”

Reach the reporter at keshoult@asu.edu