UMass Amherst Provost Recommends Closing Department of Consumer Studies

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Charlena Seymour has recommended the closing of the University''s department of consumer studies. Seymour announced her recommendation to members of the department and to the leadership of the Faculty Senate today.

Seymour said: "Certainly this was not an easy or a happy decision, but in my judgment, it represents the best decision under the circumstances."

She also expressed appreciation for the "dedication of the department''s faculty and students throughout a process that was very difficult for them."

A review concerning the future of the department had been under way since February 2000 when Robert Helgesen, former dean of the College of Food and Natural Resources, had recommended the department be closed. That review was prompted by the departure of nearly half the department''s faculty over five years and a concern for the needs of students given the lack of resources to fill those positions.

When the review was initiated, admissions into the two undergraduate programs within the department - apparel marketing and family and consumer sciences - were suspended. By the end of the spring semester, 2002, all coursework in apparel marketing will have been completed by students already in that program. Seymour has recommended the transfer of family and consumer sciences to the department of resource economics.

The four faculty who remain in consumer studies will be transferred to other departments on campus. The 4-H Youth and Family Development Program, the Center for the Family, and other activities based in consumer studies will also be transferred.

Seymour said she has discussed her recommendation with Chancellor Marcellette G. Williams and "she concurs that, on balance, it represents the approach most likely to advance the interests of the campus as a whole." Chancellor Williams will notify President William M. Bulger of the decision to close the department.