Alabama A&M students are finding out the university's trustees voted to cut some deeply rooted degree programs on Friday. Some of those programs date back to A&M's founding.
Electrical engineering makes Brandon Ellis light up. The Alabama A&M junior loves his chosen major, but also picked it for its career potential. He says, "When I graduate I'd like to get my masters, or try to find a job in engineering on the Arsenal and stuff. Hopefully next summer I'll get an internship."
Ellis says most of his friends are engineering or math majors, but not many study agriculture. Referring to the latter, he says, "There's not that much interest from the other students."
And for Alabama A&M, not that much interest means no longer offered. After Friday's Board of Trustees meeting, a university spokesman wrote, "Due to low enrollment, four bachelor's and two master's programs will be eliminated."
Among those are degrees in Agribusiness and Animal Science.
Upon learning the news, incoming freshman Phyliz Jones says, "That surprises me because Animal Science is my major." She came all the way from California, committed to studying veterinary medicine. She's even spending her summer on campus, studying the anatomy of rabbits.
As for her Animal Science program, it'll be reduced to a "concentration" within the Food Sciences program; it will not be completely eliminated. Still, she feels nature's importance shouldn't be overlooked: "[Animals] are losing their homes and soon many of the animals we see now won't be here unless we do something to protect them."
The school became a land-grant university in the late 1800s, which brought a heavy emphasis on agriculture. At that time, roughly 40% of the American workforce engaged in farm work. Now, that number is fewer than 2%.
Is the "A" in Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University still relevant? Ellis states, "The ‘mechanical' part is, but not the ‘agricultural' part."
Most of the school's agriculture programs are staying put, but a school spokesman says A&M is shifting its resources to add new programs in high-demand, like entrepreneurship and communications.
Programs to be terminated:
-B.S. in Animal Science
-B.S. in Business Education
-B.S. in Electrical Engineering Technology
-B.S. in Industrial Technology
-M.S. in Agribusiness
-M.S. in Industrial Technology
New Programs to be added:
-B.A. or B.S. in Interdisciplinary Professional Studies with Concentrations
-M.S. in Communications Specialist
-B.S. in Entrepreneurship