COLUMBIA, Mo. – A task force at the University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia has recommended cutting more than two dozen doctoral, masters and graduate certificate programs.

The Task Force on Academic Program Analysis, Enhancement and Opportunities released its findings Thursday. Programs on the proposed chopping block include religious studies masters and doctoral programs, and a graduate certificate program in gerontology. They were selected for possible elimination because of low enrollment, few graduates and a lack of research productivity, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

The 15-member group also recommended studying possible consolidation in some areas. It made no recommendations on undergraduate programs.

The deans and department chairs will be able to challenge the findings by providing reasons to keep the program, said Chancellor Alexander Cartwright and acting Provost Jim Spain.

"But in all of those cases in talking to the deans, I have stressed that you really want to make sure you have a compelling argument, that you have really thought this through because what I am looking at there is a lot of work done by a task force and we want to make sure that if there are shortfalls in terms of the understanding or something that needs to come forward, but we don't want to be questioning every decision," Cartwright said.

Members of the university's Faculty Council complained about the likelihood that program cuts will result in layoffs for non-tenure track faculty, who generally work on an annual contract.

"There is not in place any transition assistance," said Bill Wiebold, who was also a member of the task force. "This council is pretty strong in that there ought to be."

The review process is part of an effort to reduce spending that began last summer. The report doesn't say how much money, if any, would be saved.