By Dillon Thomas

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – In an effort to facilitate new programs and studies offered in Greeley, the University of Northern Colorado has announced plans to cut some programs and staff in order to facilitate growth in other fields. However, UNC’s decision to cut several liberal arts programs and professors has caused many students to protest the move.

(credit: CBS)

Friday morning dozens of students at UNC gathered on campus to vocalize their distaste for UNC’s decision to rid of some programs, including the French and German language departments. The university, in a statement issued to CBS4, said the decision to cut such programs was associated with low enrollment and greater demand for other educational opportunities.

For years enrollment in the French and German programs has been in the single digits, according to UNC, which led the president of the university to reprioritize staffing elsewhere.

The decision would cost several professors, including Patricia Jolly, their jobs.

“Our president said we were in the best financial position we have been in in a decade, and the next day cuts came down,” Jolly told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

University of Northern Colorado (credit: unco.edu/life)

According to Jolly several departments have seen budget and staffing cuts in recent years.

“Geography has taken cuts. Sociology has taken cuts, criminal justice has taken cuts, psychology has taken cuts, history has taken cuts,” Jolly said.

The university sourced nationwide drops in interest for many liberal arts programs, saying UNC is just one of many universities now reallocating money to different programs with greater interest.

“This hits me really deep,” Jolly said. “I make $42,000 a year. That is not enough to send a kid to college. So, I will lose my son’s tuition, I will lose my home, I will lose my career. But, mostly I will lose my family.”

On Friday UNC’s president took an hour of his day to attend the protest the students and staff had scheduled. He listened to students speak about their concerns and even read messages of anger they had written on campus sidewalks. At one point he even put on a shirt given by the students that represented the school in which some cuts were taking place.

“To see a nationwide trend where we are seeing these cuts is concerning,” said Neal Jeppeson, a senior studying European Languages.

“German and French will cease immediately,” Jeppeson said.

Jeppeson and Jolly warned that cutting such studies would dilute the university’s ability to engage beyond a local scale.

Jeppeson is fortunate. He will graduate before the program and staff he is in are eliminated. However, underclassmen will be forced to either change universities or majors if the budget cuts stand.

(credit: CBS)

“I feel like I became a momma bear to my students. And, as an alum, it is absolutely horrifying to feel kicked out of my home,” Jolly said.

UNC’s leadership declined to interview with CBS4 on the topic. But in a statement, they told CBS4 the university expects a 10% decline in enrollment during the 2022-2023 school year.

While they plan to make cuts in several departments, the university said they were proud to be expanding others while also creating new focuses and classes for many students. The university said repurposing staffing would allow the schools to remain relevant and modern with current workforce demands.

UNC, in a written statement, said reallocations of resources will help add or expand other educational opportunities. The university said those additions include a new degree in Health Sciences with concentrations in healthcare administration. They will also add a writing, editing, and publishing concentration to their English studies. UNC will also add three new concentrations to current mathematics and computer and data sciences programs.

Dillon Thomas