A plan to eliminate seven academic programs and one academic department from the University of New Orleans won approval Friday from the state board that oversees the school.

The action was sought by UNO President Peter Fos after a six-month study.

It is aimed at stabilizing the school, which has suffered financial and enrollment problems since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

The plan includes the elimination of 22 faculty positions, four jobs in the school’s library and $1 million in what UNO spends annually for adjunct instructors.

The total savings are supposed to be $2.8 million initially. More academic programs are set for review during the next phase of the shake-up.

The Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System approved the changes without dissent.

Fos said last week that the review was aimed at pinpointing programs that fit with UNO’s long-term mission, including student demand, the size of each program, graduation rates and revenue generated.

“It wasn’t an easy process on campus, and none of these recommendations come lightly,” Fos said in a prepared statement issued Friday by the UL System.

E.G. Hebert, chairman of the board, also backed the changes.

“This is very painful, but it has to be done for UNO to survive,” Hebert said.

Academic programs set for elimination are:

  • Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education
  • Master’s degree in special education
  • Doctorate in curriculum and instruction
  • Doctorate in special education
  • Master’s degree in political science
  • Doctorate in political science
  • Master’s degree in Romance languages.

In addition, the Department of Geography will be eliminated. The department stopped offering degree programs in 2011.

Brad Ott, a UNO graduate, told the board the action is ill-advised.

“I daresay this is a sad day for Louisiana and New Orleans,” Ott said.

He called the reduction of four library workers outrageous and said the lack of faculty members to criticize the plan in person stemmed from the fact it was finals week.

“No one is here because they are doing their work,” Ott said. “It is unconscionable that these discussions are being made at this time.”

A working group of faculty members earlier called for ending three degree programs and restructuring another 25.

How phase two and phase three of UNO’s review will unfold is unclear.

Phase two will include the review of other academic programs for possible restructuring or merger for the 2016-17 school year.

Total savings by then are supposed to be $4.7 million.

The final phase involves a check of programs considered the most financially stable.

All the additional changes have to return to the UL System Board of Supervisors for final approval.

Fos, who has been UNO president for nearly three years, previously cut more than 110 positions and closed an on-campus child care center.