An Update from President Marty Martin on the University’s Academic Program Review Process

Dear Bulldog community, 

I am writing to provide an update on our academic program review process and our work to balance the operating budget by fiscal year 2026 (July 2025). 

As I shared in February and subsequently, the higher education landscape is rapidly evolving as colleges and universities across the country face declining enrollments driven by the lingering effects of the pandemic and a precipitous decline in the number of high school graduates going to college. Staying true to our mission promise, we are confronting this moment as an opportunity to strategically position Drake for long-term growth and success.  

One of several actions Drake is taking to reach our goal of a balanced budget by July 2025 includes a review of the University’s academic programs. Since November 2023, we have worked collaboratively—faculty governance, administration, deans, and the Drake Board of Trustees—to review our academic offerings and identify areas where we can strengthen programs and better align the academic portfolio with student demand and workforce needs while staying true to our mission. 

The criteria by which the University evaluated programs was developed by the Faculty Senate Budget Committee and unanimously approved by the Faculty Senate in January 2024. The Faculty Senate voted on the final recommendations on April 17, which were then shared with the Board of Trustees for review in Board meetings on April 25 and 26. The Board of Trustees approved Faculty Senate’s vote to eliminate the following programs: 

  • East Asian Studies minor 
  • Religion major (Religion minor will be retained and reconfigured) 
  • Evidence-Based Healthcare graduate certificate 

Students currently enrolled in these programs—14 in total—are being provided with teach-out plans from their deans’ offices and advisors, meaning they will be able to finish their program at Drake on time and without delay.  

As we continue to navigate the challenges ahead and balance our operating budget, let’s not lose sight of our successes and the power of a Drake education. In nearly two weeks, more than 1,000 students will receive their Drake degree—a degree that provides a lifetime of value as proven by our impressive student outcomes. Last year, more than 97 percent of our undergraduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school six months after graduation and earlier graduates recorded median earnings that were $10,000 higher than graduates of any other Iowa institution. What’s more, these outcomes and more have been recognized by The Wall Street Journal in its 2024 College Pulse Rankings and by The New York Times as a top U.S. college with the greatest economic diversity.  

This year we have continued to invest in academic innovation that aligns with our institutional strengths. In February, we began developing an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program to address the national nursing shortage and growing demand for high-quality nursing education. Our first cohort of nursing students will begin the program this coming August. In April, we announced a new accelerated Teacher Intern  
as part of our existing Master of Teaching degree, that allows these students to start working as a paid teacher in the classroom much earlier in their degree program. These follow recent launches of digital proficiency programs, including an Artificial Intelligence major and a Cybersecurity minor. These initiatives exemplify the University’s commitment to creating academic offerings that meet both students’ and society’s needs. 

As the higher education landscape evolves, we too must evolve. This is not the first time Drake has navigated through a period of change. Each time, we’ve emerged stronger and more prepared to live up to our commitment to transforming lives and strengthening communities for generations to come.