Statement of Purpose
Save UE is a campaign by the University of Evansville (UE) chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The campaign was launched in response to an announcement by UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz at the Fall Conference in August 2020 that he and his senior administrative team would evaluate the university’s academic programs and then use those evaluations to select programs for elimination. Save UE’s initial goal was to “restore to the faculty its due role within the shared governance structure of the university and so to enable the faculty to fully and actively participate in the administration’s current program evaluation process.” Despite Save UE’s call for faculty participation in the program evaluation process being echoed by the Senate, the faculty, and the Student Government Association, the President did not listen. Instead, he conducted program evaluations that were principally informed by enrollment and financial data processed by an outside consulting firm.
The decisions resulting from the President’s program evaluations were revealed at a Faculty Meeting on December 10th. At that meeting the President laid out a draft academic realignment plan that called for the elimination of three departments, eighteen majors, and thirty-eight faculty members. In response, the Save UE campaign modified its objectives so as to oppose the President’s plan. The new statement of purpose served as the foundation for the months of campaigning that followed.
The first major decision regarding the realignment emerged on February 8th when the university publicly announced that it would be retaining the Music department, one of the departments slated for elimination within the draft academic realignment plan. This announcement did not mention the fact that the Music department would be losing roughly one third of its full-time faculty. The following month, the full institutional realignment plan was unveiled. The plan included the loss of twenty-two faculty members and the elimination of seven members of the staff and administration. It did not, however, seek any personnel cuts within the Athletics department. The final realignment plan also contained a number of other measures that will damage the university: the deletion of the Art History, Philosophy, and Religion majors; a one-year “pause” in the admission of new freshmen for the Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering majors; and the removal of the position of Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science as part of the combining of the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Business.
Even now, it is clear that President Pietruszkiewicz’s institutional realignment plan will have the following consequences:
- Enrollment will substantially drop.
- Retention rates will plummet.
- The university’s financial difficulties will worsen.
- The range of courses offered by the university will diminish.
- The general education program taken by all undergraduates will weaken and contract.
- Experienced tenured faculty members will be replaced by visiting and adjunct faculty.
- The diversity of the faculty will decrease.
For the students, the plan will result in a lesser education. For the university, it will cause even greater financial strain. For the faculty, it can only lead to more cuts in the near future.
The Save UE campaign is therefore needed now more than ever.
In response to the current situation, the campaign has redefined its objectives. Save UE now supports:
- The implementation of the AAUP-derived system of shared governance defined in the Faculty Manual within which the faculty has primary responsibility over educational policy
- The use of “adequate communication,” as defined by the AAUP’s “Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities,” in all interactions between the bodies of the university
- The following of the Faculty Manual’s requirement that the university adhere to AAUP guidelines in all matters pertaining to academic freedom, tenure, and professional ethics
- The public disclosure of pertinent data and information from all areas of the university
- The rights of all university employees to equitable salaries, benefits, and work practices
- The growth of diversity and inclusivity within all the bodies of the university
- The creation of a working environment for all students and university employees that is safe and supportive
We must act now. We must Save UE!