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 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 set out a “proposed academic realignment plan.” The plan proposes the complete elimination of three departments: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Music, and Philosophy and Religion. In addition to the twelve majors within those departments, the plan lists five more majors to be cut: Art History, History, Physics, Political Science, and Spanish. Some faculty members from all five of those departments would be released. The proposed plan would also result in losses in the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Creative Writing and English (combined), and Math. In total, the implementation of the President’s plan would lead to the elimination of 38 faculty members. While the President was very clear on the cuts within his plan, he was less clear on the additions. He has said that the proposed program eliminations will allow for the “investment of more resources” in the “greatest areas of growth,” but he has neither directly specified what those areas are nor offered a complete list of the programs that he is looking to add.
We, the UE chapter of the AAUP, hold that the implementation of the President’s proposed cuts would have the following consequences:
1. The cuts would impede the university from fulfilling its educational mission because they would do massive damage to the university’s arts and sciences core while also erasing essential professional programs.
2. The cuts would diminish the surviving programs because the university’s academic programs are so fundamentally integrated that the removal of any one program would negatively impact several others.
3. The cuts would lower the teaching standards for current UE students because, to quote the senior administration, it is “very likely” that the university will use “part-time faculty” to enable students majoring in programs targeted for elimination to complete their degrees.
4. The cuts would hinder future UE students because those students would have a narrower range of curricular options and would participate in a heavily weakened General Education program.
In response to the President’s plan, the Save UE campaign has modified its objectives. The campaign 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 following of the university’s policies on curricular change as defined in the Faculty Manual within which proposals for curricular changes are to pass through the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Senate
• The release of a complete draft institutional “alignment plan” including but not limited to all proposed changes to curriculum, faculty, staff, administration, and athletics prior to the making of any final decisions on the removal of departments, majors or faculty members
• The completion of a process within which each department is given the opportunity to review and verify all the program data used within the President’s program evaluations that relates to its programs prior to the making of any final decisions on the removal of departments, majors or faculty members
• The adherence to university policies on dismissal as defined in the Faculty Manual and to all the AAUP documents relating to dismissal endorsed by the Faculty Manual in all dismissal proceedings
We must act now. The time has come to Save UE!