Universities Choosing a Queen Sacrifice

chess queen
Image via Flickr svklimkin Public Domain

I was reading a post on Medium by Bryan Alexander in which he used the term "queen sacrifice" in reference to some changes occurring at universities. I know the term from chess but wasn't sure of his usage. It turns out he has been using that term for the past year to describe something happening in higher ed.

Another post by him on two more campuses (one in my home state of New Jersey) got me more interested in this trend. I worked briefly with Bryan on a MOOC about MOOCs back in 2012 and found him to always be thought-provoking and innovative.

In chess, a queen sacrifice is a move that sacrifices a queen in return for some compensation, such as a tactical or positional advantage. These university "queen sacrifices" are sacrifices of faculty and programs are usually brought on by dropping enrollments and reduced government funding for public institutions.

At NJCU, they released this interestingly worded press release (emphasis on language is mine).

The Division of Academic Affairs announced on December 15, 2022 that it has responded to the ongoing university-wide rightsizing efforts by reducing its academic portfolio by 37%. The University is sunsetting 48 undergraduate programs, 24 minors, 28 graduate programs, 10 certificate programs, and one doctoral program.



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