SUU Working on New Master’s Degree

Published: February 01, 2005 | Author: Renee Ballenger | Read Time: 3 minutes

Southern Utah University officials are taking the final approval steps to getting a new graduate degree in place at the Cedar City campus. One of the final pieces of the puzzle has been finding the requisite funding for a Master in Professional Communication program.

Several weeks ago the Utah State Board of Regents’ Program Review Committee (PRC) gave SUU officials the approval to complete the Communication program proposal for their review and action.

“This is great news and a good sign that we have an excellent chance of getting approval for this degree,” said Provost Abe Harraf. “This has been our top priority for a new graduate degree for a number of years.”

The problem with funding is that the University is in a ‘zero-sum’ funding mode, meaning the only way to come up with money for any new degree program is to take it from somewhere else. After carefully considering several options, the administration has come to the conclusion that the University will discontinue funding for the Forensic Team and redirect equivalent resources to support the graduate degree in Communication.

“It has been a very tough decision to make,” stated President Steven Bennion. “Many people have considered a variety of options before we came to this conclusion. Adding selected graduate degrees has been part of our long-term plans for some time. It is also part of our newest strategic plan formulated by a large campus committee and approved by our Board of Trustees.”

Bennion continued, “Since other funding options are not available, and the Regents will not approve a new degree program that increases the University’s budget, we have no other choice but to cut an existing program to pay for the graduate degree. We are very excited to be moving ahead with one of our University’s priorities.”

The entire Dean’s Council considered various options involving the Communication Master’s degree. For example: increasing tuition to pay for the Forensic Team; holding off on the new degree until funds become readily available; taking money from each academic college budget; and, asking the student government to consider proposing a new general student fee.

President Bennion said, “We are clearly sympathetic to the disappointment of the Forensic Team. However, we believe that such a sacrifice must be made in the strategic interest of the institution.”

The total amount of funding that could be realized from discontinuing the Forensic Team is approximately $85,000. It is planned to keep the entire total realized savings within the Communication Department.

The current time spent coaching the Forensic Team by a Communication faculty member would be shifted into teaching more classes within the department. Also, the students already on scholarship to participate on the Forensic Team will remain on scholarship until their graduation from SUU.

Assistant to the President, Dean O’Driscoll, said, “While making this choice, the administration felt compelled to choose an academic program that would advance the University’s reputation and increase the size and strength of the Communication department. The Master of Communication degree will have the ability to positively affect the lives of many more students and that has been the bottom line in the deliberation process.”


Through its more than 100-year history, Southern Utah University has evolved from a teacher training school into its current role as a comprehensive, regional university to 6,000 students from across the globe. It serves the southern region of Utah and contiguous counties in surrounding states with undergraduate and graduate programs in six colleges. People of the region look to the University for outreach services, culture, economic and business development, higher learning, regional history, public affairs, major academic specialties, and significant entertainment and recreation. Accentuated by the notable, economic value of its services, SUU's hallmark is its quality staff, faculty and academics.

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