How We Got Here
In 1989, the Board of Trustees reaffirmed its commitment to shared governance by amending the university charter to include the requirement that both the faculty and the board vote annually on budgeted tuition and fees. Since then, top university officials have sought to limit faculty participation. This timeline contains the key moments in the faculty’s detachment from shared governance and demonstrates the consequences of that detachment.
|Mid-2000s||* Administrators stop seeking a vote on tuition and fees from the faculty and so choose to ignore the university charter. No such vote has been held since.|
|2004-2005||* Total number of full-time students increases 1% from previous year. Claiming a fiscal crisis, President Jennings announces a cut to employee post-retirement healthcare without consulting the faculty. After an outcry, Jennings allows the Faculty Senate to appoint a taskforce to recommend lower-cost alternatives.|
|2008-2009||* Total number of full-time students drops 0.3% from previous year.|
* Total number of full-time administrators surpasses full-time faculty members for the first time. Administrators have outnumbered faculty members ever since.
|2013-2014||* Total number of full-time students drops 5% from previous year.|
* A marketing survey of prospective students and their parents is presented to the faculty. The survey argues that the keys to growing enrollment are a variety of academic programs and an excellent faculty.
* In response to a growing fiscal crisis, President Kazee tasks a faculty committee with identifying academic programs to be cut. The committee concludes that cutting academic
programs would drive down enrollment and so exacerbate the crisis.
* President Kazee also creates a committee of faculty members and administrators for the purpose of reviewing administrative costs. That committee recommends the consolidation of administrative areas.
|2014-2015||* Total number of full-time students drops 1% from previous year.|
* President Kazee sets a goal of reducing the faculty by 9%. He thereby ignores the conclusions reached the previous year by the faculty committee that was tasked with identifying academic programs for elimination.
* A number of staff and administrative positions are eliminated.
* A taskforce of faculty members and administrators recommends the reorganization of senior administration for the reduction of costs. President Kazee ignores the taskforce’s suggestions.
|2018-2019||*Total number of full-time students drops 0.6% from previous year.|
* President Pietruszkiewicz becomes the 24th president of the University of Evansville.
*During the spring semester, President Pietruszkiewicz eliminates 16% of faculty and 9% of the combined staff and administration as a response to the spiraling fiscal crisis. He does not consult with faculty. Some students go to local news outlets to complain about the loss of professors and majors.
|2019-2020||* Total number of full-time students drops 5% from previous year.|
* In February of 2020, just before the country begins to feel the effects of COVID-19, the number of new student deposits drops 20% from the previous year, the largest single year decrease in new student enrollment since World War II. Since no other school reports such a steep drop, it appears to have been a direct result of the elimination of faculty and programs the previous year. Faculty band together with the staff and administrators in the Office of Admissions to increase yield. By August, the size of the gap is reduced to only 11%.
* In April, President Pietruszkiewicz announces that the small incoming class will force more program closures and faculty eliminations. He cites the February enrollment figures despite the fact they were out of date by April. The president makes promises about working with the faculty and allowing them input into the process by which programs are evaluated and selected for elimination.
|Fall 2020||* Total number of full-time students drops 11% from previous year.|
* At the Fall Conference in August, the President again speaks of his intention to evaluate the university’s academic programs as a precursor to choosing programs for deletion. He also says that he has tasked the EVPAA with reviewing the university’s General Education program.
* In September, the faculty respond to the President’s Fall Conference address by forming an AAUP chapter and launching the Save UE campaign.
* At the September Senate meeting, the Senate formally requests involvement in the president’s program evaluation process. The faculty supports this request. The President responds by saying that he and his team will “consult with faculty and discuss appropriate procedures.”
* In October, the Faculty Senate votes no confidence in the President on the grounds that the President has not included the faculty in his program evaluations. This vote is endorsed by the faculty. The Board of Trustees reacts with a letter to the city’s newspaper proclaiming total faith in President Pietruszkiewicz’ leadership and questioning whether the faculty have the best interests of the institution in mind.
* In mid-December, President Pietruszkiewicz holds a Zoom webinar to announce his draft academic realignment plan. The plan calls for the elimination of 3 whole departments, 18 majors, and 38 faculty members. In offering his plan, the President says that the faculty will be given numerous opportunities “over the course of the next couple of weeks” to provide “questions and answers and comments and recommendations.”
* On the Wednesday after the President’s announcement, the 38 faculty members that implementation of the plan would eliminate are sent provisional notices of dismissal from the EVPAA.
* The next day, the Senate votes no confidence in the President’s draft academic realignment plan because that plan fails to follow the university’s “mandated process for curricular change.” The Senate’s resolution is emphatically supported by the faculty.
|Spring 2021||* In January, President Pietruszkiewicz responds to a Senate resolution by proclaiming that his “proposed academic alignment plan is not an educational policy decision, but an administrative decision” and so does not need to go before the faculty. Later that month, the President reverses his position and says that all program deletion proposals resulting from the realignment will be reviewed by the Senate’s Curriculum Committee. |
* After an intense public-pressure campaign, UE publicly announces that the Music department, one of the departments slated for elimination within the draft academic realignment plan, will be retained. That announcement does not mention that the Music department will lose roughly a third of its full-time faculty as a result of the realignment.
* On March 8th, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees reviews the final realignment plan and recommends its approval.
* Three days later, on March 11th, the final realignment plan is revealed to the faculty. The plan contains the departures of 22 faculty members and the removal of 7 active positions within the Staff and Administration. No positions are eliminated within the Athletics department. The plan also calls for the closure of three majors – Art History, Philosophy, and Religion – and a “pause” in freshmen enrollment for the Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering programs.
* On the morning of the next day, the Board of Trustees amends the final realignment plan to ensure that the proposed program deletions go before the Senate’s Curriculum Committee. It then votes unanimously to approve the plan. That afternoon, the President holds a webinar to allow the Senior Administration and the faculty to discuss the approved plan.