MANKATO — Bethany Lutheran College announced Tuesday what were called “program adjustments” that will balance the school’s budget for each of the next five years.
Beginning in fall 2024, majors and minors will be discontinued for American studies, history, social studies and theater. In addition, philosophy and global and cross-cultural studies minors will no longer be offered.
In addition, and because of low course enrollments, the teaching of Latin and Norwegian will be discontinued.
While some faculty and staff will experience duty changes at the private college, no full-time Bethany employees will be laid off, according to the announcement.
The actions result from a study of enrollment trends over the last year by Bethany administration and the board of regents. This was followed by a financial analysis for each of the college’s academic and co-curricular and extracurricular programs that prompted these decisions.
The regents adopted at their November meeting a set of strategies that include targeted investments in areas that show potential for additional enrollment growth, new ideas that promote revenue generation, increased support from foundations and donors, and strategic budget adjustments, the announcement said.
Bethany President Gene Pfeifer held an update meeting with employees Nov. 21 to announce the decisions. An email was shared Monday with alumni, friends and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Pfeifer also held a town hall Tuesday with students who had questions about the announced changes.
Founded in 1927, Bethany Lutheran College is a Christian liberal arts college owned and operated by the ELS. According to their website, Bethany and the ELS share common beliefs and practices with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and do not ascribe to modern liberal American Lutheranism.
This fall Bethany announced the 671 full-time students represented a 20-student increase over the previous record enrollment. The record 905 students in total represented 683 undergraduates and 48 graduate students in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program, in addition to Post-Secondary Enrollment Option and international students.
While majors and minors are being discontinued, the announcement stated that associated activities will continue. A plan will be provided to the five current theater majors and three history majors so they may graduate from these programs.
A reduced number of history and theater courses will continue to be taught as general education offerings to meet core discipline graduation requirements for all students.
“The full, annual calendar of Bethany-produced plays and musicals will continue to be offered,” it said, “and beginning in the 2024-25 academic year, band and choir tours will operate on a four-year annual rotation of national, regional, and local church and school touring.”
An additional full-time faculty member will be hired to teach in the math-science division and the vacant head coaching positions in the men’s and women’s golf and tennis programs will be rehired.
The credit allotment for coaching the Bethany speech and debate team will be reallocated to academic interests in the communication major due to cost considerations. The speech and debate team will continue as a student-run organization.