Bellarmine says it’s realigning programs in response to community’s needs

Zoey Rister, left, and Tirzah Nelson waited for Bellarmine University’s commencement exercises to begin May 14, 2022. Bellarmine announced upcoming changes to its curriculum that will eliminate some majors and introduce others. (Record File Photo by Kayla Bennett)

Bellarmine University is making changes to its curriculum — such as investing in new high-demand programs — to meet the needs of students and the community, the school said in a press release.

The university, located in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood, announced that several majors will be phased out over the next few years: undergraduate degrees in Spanish, theater, philosophy, aging studies, foreign languages and international studies, physics, radiation therapy and senior living leadership; a graduate degree in athletic training; and graduate and undergraduate medical laboratory science programs.

“These majors have produced few graduates in recent years, and the savings from these programs — combined with savings already achieved through administrative streamlining — will ensure the university can invest in new, high-demand programs,” the release said.

University President Dr. Susan Donovan said in an interview that all disciplines will still be offered, and there will continue to be theater productions, but the opportunity to major in those programs will be phased out.

“We’ve been undergoing a process the last eight months to sort of lean forward on our strategic initiative for the future and trying to match up our programs with what students need, what the world needs, what Louisville needs,” Donovan said. “So some of that required refining areas for greater efficiencies … to invest in new programs in future majors that students want to take and what businesses and health care organizations in our community need.”

The new degree programs are marketing, neuroscience, public health, biomedical science, nurse anesthesia and health professions education.

Bellarmine isn’t alone in this shift, said Donovan. Higher education is undergoing “a major realignment” across the country to stay up-to-date on how to best to serve college students entering the workforce, she said. Bellarmine will continue to evaluate where it has the capacity to expand and what interests students. 

Students currently enrolled in majors that will be phased out will receive what Donovan called “teach-out plans,” individualized coursework that will enable each student to complete their studies. Because this decision was announced so late in the school year, students planning to attend Bellarmine in the fall for those majors will be able to do so, as well.

The decision to phase out certain majors wasn’t easy, Donovan added.

“We can’t be everything for everyone,” she said. “This was a painful decision. We don’t want to do anything to take away from our liberal arts” environment. 

Initiatives within the new plan will continue to place focus on “ensuring that every student is successful and career ready, and Bellarmine ready by our standards,” Donovan said. “We want our students to be prepared for life.”

Kayla Bennett
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Kayla Bennett
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