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West Virginia University officials announced Thursday that they will still recommend that their Board of Governors eliminate the institution’s current master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics.

The board will vote on this final recommendation Sept. 15, alongside a multitude of other proposed cuts.

In response to an appeal from the WVU School of Mathematical and Data Sciences, an appeal hearing committee recommended that the board reduce the number of faculty positions to 32, according to the final recommendation document the university released Thursday. That means 16 faculty positions would be cut, slightly fewer than the 18 in “preliminary” recommendation figures released three weeks ago.

“That doesn’t sound [like] remotely enough, from the discussions that I’ve heard, you know, just in terms of running the overall business of service classes and everything else,” said Casian Pantea, an associate math professor.

The final recommendation document also says the committee decided to “Grant the appeal on the discontinuation of all doctoral instruction in the school by a vote of 6 to 1.” But it’s unclear what impact that will have on what math degrees WVU will ultimately offer.

The Provost’s Office had written in its preliminary recommendation that it gave the school “approval to begin the intent to plan process” for a replacement master’s degree, one in “applied mathematics/data sciences.” The final recommendation now says the unit “may develop an intent to plan for an applied mathematics/data sciences
degree program at the doctoral level.”

But there is still no date, or guarantee, that either the new master’s or Ph.D. will come to fruition. Thursday’s news release said Fred King, WVU’s vice president for research, “dispelled the notion that the absence of a math Ph.D. program would harm the university’s R-1 status should a new program fail to materialize, or if there was a gap between the end of the teach out for the current program[’s remaining students] and the launch of a new graduate-level program.”

In the release, King said, “The reality is that we are looking to the future and other R-1s are likely to follow suit.” Neither he nor a WVU spokeswoman responded to requests for comment Thursday.

R-1 is a prestigious label reserved for those with “very high research activity” in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Inside Higher Ed reported earlier Thursday that its review of the 146 R-1 institutions’ websites shows that each offers at least one master’s degree or Ph.D. in math. Just dropping down to a master’s degree wouldn’t be unprecedented—the University of Maine, an R-1 in an even lower-population state, only offers a master’s—but not offering a Ph.D. would still make West Virginia just one of a handful of R-1s without one.

“It does sound like that’s it—the Ph.D. in math is over,” Pantea said.