ESU Faculty Senate recommends against closing athletic training program

It's not the final decision in the matter -- that comes from President Dr. Michael Shonrock -- but the Emporia State Faculty Senate has voted unanimously to recommend against discontinuing the university's athletic training program. It has also recommended overwhelmingly to "uncouple" program director Matt Howe's tenure-track promotion from the program's future.

On Tuesday, Faculty Senate member Andrew Houchins presented a resolution to avoid discontinuing the program, in part because ESU would have to replace the students with salaried trainers at a significantly higher cost to the university and in part because athletic training was not considered for discontinuation earlier in the academic year until, as he said, new accreditation rules from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education were passed.

Howe was grateful for the votes.

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Enrollment concerns have been discussed the past few years. The Kansas Board of Regents says the program should have at least 10 graduates per year. The current five-year average is 4.8, and the last two years have seen a total of six graduates.

The CAATE accreditation issue comes because the body wants two full-time, tenure-track professors leading the program. Teachers College Dean Dr. Ken Weaver, who made the recommendation to discontinue last month, says several other programs are meeting Board of Regents graduation requirements and are also short of professors, including Health, Physical Education and Recreation, school leadership, psychology and special education. He recently told KVOE News those programs need to have their staffing needs met before the university should move forward with athletic training.

In the resolution, Houchins said other programs under consideration for discontinuance in years past have had more time to explore options to save their respective programs. Howe has told KVOE News athletic training needs about double its current space to attract more students and make a second professor position viable.

The board also voted 17-0 with four abstentions to uncouple Howe's contract situation from that of the athletic program.

Howe meets with Shonrock on Thursday. He tells KVOE News he's hoping Shonrock approves additional time for adjustments.

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At this time, it is unclear whether a final decision will come from that meeting or at some point later.

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