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West Liberty University has planned for a new Zoo Science program. According to the report before BOG by the Provost, here, he stated:

A Zoo Science major in the Biology program is being planned to begin in Fall 2016. There are only four programs in the country, all with waiting lists, and all much more expensive than WLU. Final approval is expected shortly.

But there are not four nationwide (even Oglebay does not tell the truth about this fact), there are at least a dozen according to this link.  Furthermore, I have not even linked the numerous other programs that exist across the United States that have majors in the more robust Zoology or Oceanography programs.  Oh you’d like an example?  OK: here, here, here, here, here (zoology and includes zoo science), here (want aquarium experience?  UNC and Fort Fisher).  Oh, but wait, there’s a plethora of programs dealing with animals and care:  here is a list so large, it calls into question the Provost’s judgement.  I could keep going—describing the difference between zoology and zoo science, or between those and marine biology and aquarium science, but why.  WLU has misled the public and that should be enough.

Zoo Science programs may be great—pending on the academic offering, location, resouruces, etc., but it is also less robust and limiting.  Many of these programs are offered at the community college level as well.  While Oglebay may have a nice little zoo program, there are so many programs that offer more, and offer a genuinely robust academic experience that the consumer should stop and look at the hundreds of programs in this and related fields before purchasing the degree (and yes, I mean purchasing).

What the hell is WLU doing with the taxpayer’s money that it believes it can offer a program, not tell the truth about its potential demand, and then offer disingenuous promises to students that it is one of four in the country?  I thought WLU was in the middle of a budget crisis to offer such risky programs that apparently, not even the WVHEPC has approved (and let’s be clear, they will rubber stamp this proposal).

Nothing against the professors who are involved in this program at WLU, but this is an epic fail for a university that gets rid of liberal arts programs, and retains comic books (about which I will have a separate post later).

Addendum: I received this offline message from an Ohio Valley resident:  “Don’t be so hard on the whole zoo idea. They’ve already got plenty of animals to work with.”