The EWU Board of Trustees has directed President Arévalo to investigate a plan to address the needs and appropriate innovation for the undergraduate- and graduate-level math students.
In a trustees meeting held on March 23, board member Mark Mays spoke about the importance the trustees placed on shared governance, noting that while not everyone gets to vote, everyone gets a chance to participate in decisions that are important to the outcome of the university. He stated that they heard mathematics department chair Barbara Alvin’s concerns about the discontinuation of the master’s program and understood that math was important.
“We also want to reaffirm our commitment to being able to provide students and to the region those academic programs that are vital in an era in which we’re committed to science, technology, engineering and math,” Mays said.
“To say that there’s something deficient about the students in terms of being able to master things, I don’t think that works. Certainly, students need to row their side of the boat or we’re just going to go round in circles. But we also need to look at different and creative ways and more effective ways to teach these students so we can focus on the outcome of their learning rather than just the process by which we’ve been doing it,” Mays said.
In a brief, post-meeting interview, Mays said that there was no motion to challenge or alter the administrative decision the president made in its current form.
Mays added that comments and concerns were about structure and the cost efficiency of the program and not about the dedication and ability of the faculty in the math programs.
Oscar Ocaña, president of the Associated Students of Eastern Washington University said that his primary concern was for the success of the largest group of students at EWU, which, in this case, were the undergrads.
“How can we focus and get a master’s degree when we are not even capable of having a successful undergrad program?”
Ocaña added that the success of the math program related to many different majors and said that he hoped that the math department would focus their resources on undergraduate success before thinking about graduate programs.
Provost Rex Fuller recommended that the master’s program be discontinued in September 2011, which the president concurred with . The president gave his recommendation to the board of trustees in November.