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Anthropology/sociology major leaves the chopping block

While the ANSO major is no longer being considered for elimination, other programs continue to fight to stay at Drake. Graphic by Veronica Meiss | Web Editor

Editor’s note: The Times-Delphic removed the name of the ANSO professor as their name was unnecessary to the overall understanding of the story.

In an email to faculty, staff and students on Friday, Provost Sue Mattison said the anthropology/sociology (ANSO) major is no longer recommended for elimination.

“While the data provided to all programs are accurate, I made a mistake in my review of those data,” Mattison said. “Instead of looking at ANSO major data in making the original recommendation, I was reviewing ANSO department data. Both were titled ‘ANSO program.’” 

Mattison said that until department faculty shared the ANSO major numbers during a Faculty Senate meeting on Wednesday, she didn’t know about her mistake. 

During the meeting, sociology professor Nancy Berns delivered a response to the recommendation to eliminate the ANSO major and anthropology minor. 

“One of the two pieces of data used to support this recommendation [to eliminate the ANSO major] stated the total student credit hours in anthropology have declined by 38% over the nine years,” Berns said. “That is wrong. The decision for cutting anthropology, and [a professor], is based on wrong numbers.” 

Berns said the reported 38% decrease includes not just the ANSO major and anthropology minor, but also two other majors and two other minors. 

“The 38% decrease in student credit hours actually reflects the discontinuation of the geography program and the SCS major,” Berns said. 

Berns said the second data point used to justify the termination of the anthropology program was the “false claim that there is a steady decline of anthropology majors and minors.”

Across the University, nine faculty positions were recommended for elimination, The Times-Delphic reported on March 1. After the removal of ANSO from the list, one faculty position is no longer up for elimination, according to Mattison. 

“This mistake was clearly my fault, and I am very sorry,” Mattison said in her email. 

Berns wasn’t the only one making a case about a field of study. Faculty Senate also heard arguments about physics, astronomy, religion, rhetoric, public administration, accountancy and East Asian studies.

At the meeting, English Department chair Lisa West also took issue with how data had been used. She spoke on behalf of rhetoric. 

West laid out two categories for the department’s response: “erroneous or misleading consideration of data” and “the significance of rhetoric and media studies to the Drake mission and the English Department.”

Health sciences chair Cassity Gutierrez spoke about her department’s response to the recommendation to eliminate the health care administration major. She said the department would issue a statement of clarification rather than go through the formal appeal process. 

On March 1, Mattison sent out a list of 13 programs recommended for elimination. The list was composed of six undergraduate majors, four undergraduate minors, two graduate majors and one graduate certificate. Aside from the removal of the ANSO major, Mattison has not announced any changes to the list of programs recommended for elimination. The anthropology minor remains on the list.

On April 17, Drake’s Faculty Senate will vote on the final recommendations for program elimination, according to the Drake internal site “Shaping Our Future.” President Marty Martin will review the recommendations before presenting them to the Board of Trustees. On April 29, he will share the Board’s final decisions with campus.

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