Budget cuts and decreased enrollment may cause Elizabeth City State University, one of 17 UNC campuses, to limit courses of study.

Ry Rivard of Inside Higher Ed reports.

The End of History?

One of the 17 University of North Carolina campuses could stop offering degrees in physics, history and political science.

Elizabeth City State University, a 2,300-student historically black college in northeastern North Carolina, is talking about ending seven undergraduate degree programs because of state funding declines and enrollment shortfalls, said Provost Ali Khan.

The majors are considered “low productive” by UNC’s general administration office, Khan said. Elizabeth City is not alone — about 11 percent of all academic programs in the system have been given the same designation. While many public systems are pushing to eliminate programs without high enrollments, the programs on the chopping block at Elizabeth City are among those many educators say are essential at any undergraduate institution.

North Carolina is of course not alone. Because of lean budgets, colleges across the country are reconsidering what were once the staples of an American higher education. Physics programs are being felled, for instance.

At Elizabeth City, Khan said the university “is turning to cost efficiency and cost effectiveness measures” to cope with its financial situation. In one sign of those troubles, Moody’s Investors Service put Elizabeth City on a negative credit outlook because of a 26 percent decline in full-time student enrollment since fall 2010 and “a longstanding history of deficit operations.”