Glassman announces plan to ‘vitalize’ university

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

At his State of the University Speech, President David Glassman announced the creation of a Vitalization Project meant to guide planning and budgeting decisions and make changes to programs and services on campus.

This project will be led by a Task Force, the President’s Liaison Subcommittee and nine workgroups.

Each of the workgroups will analyze programs and services on their viability, efficiency and sustainability, then make recommendations for how the administration should allocate future resources and how they will fund targeted investments.

These recommendations will be reviewed by the president, who will also consult the appropriate vice president and their leadership team.

Workgroups one through six will analyze the efficiencies, viability and sustainability of existing services and programs.

Workgroup seven will assess the viability and sustainability of Eastern’s academic undergraduate and graduate programs.

These programs will be considered for their quality, the centrality of the program to the university’s mission, student enrollment, the demand of the program by prospective students and the revenue/expense profile of the program.

In an email, Glassman said the revenue/expense profile of a program or department is determined as the net revenue generated from a program or department minus the total expenses in salaries and operational costs to administer the program or run the department.

The goal of workgroups eight and nine is to envision new ideas for academic affairs.

According to a timeline on the president’s website, workgroups one through seven should develop their final recommendations and forward them to the president by Dec. 15.

These recommendations can be to delete a program or service or make a plan to improve its viability and efficiency.

Recommendation can also be made for programs and services to continue with increased resources, or for further efficiencies to be made to enhance a program’s marketability or increase enrollment.

According to the website, departments will have an opportunity to respond to these recommendations.

Jon Blitz, president of Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois, said a worrisome aspect of this project was the potential for program deletions.

“Everyone understands that we have to wait and see how the process plays out,” Blitz said.

If the programs are eliminated, Blitz said, he assumes all the contractual provisions for making that happen will be adhered.

According to the website, all contractual agreements will be followed across this process and in the implementation of recommendations.

As far as specifics, Blitz said he does not know what exactly would happen if a program were to be deleted, as he has never seen it happen before.

His main concern would be if the university would end up losing faculty as a result, however he added that he is not sure that would be what happens.

“What I am sure of is if a program gets eliminated, then the program gets eliminated,” Blitz said.

Though Blitz said program deletion makes sense in financial terms, in academic terms, these programs have a reason to exist.

“I understand the reason for doing (the Vitalization Project),” Blitz said. “I am not against it at all, I have concerns about where it’s going and how it’s being done.”

Blitz said it is necessary that something be done, and at this point he is trying not to be negative about it.

“Of course, it’s likely to be a very big deal,” Blitz said.

When it comes to faculty, Blitz said many are perceptive enough to be worried about potential program deletions, as some programs are going to be more vulnerable than others.

“It’s going to vary across campus on how much faculty are worried.  If they’re in a vulnerable program then (they are) going to more worried,” Blitz said.

In his speech, Glassman said the project is meant to be consultative and transparent.

“The timeline for the project is very ambitious for several of the workgroups to comply with the charge of the Board of Trustees,” Glassman said in his speech. During a Board of Trustees meeting in June 2016, the university was charged with assessing academic and non-academic programs and services.

In response to this, the Vitalization Project was created over the summer with the consultation of the Council on University Planning and Budgeting.

The workgroups are set to be filled over the next two weeks. The CUPB, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Senate, Civil Service Council, Council of Chairs, Dean’s council and vice presidents can nominate members to serve. Self-nominations from throughout the university are also encouraged, Glassman said.

Nominations can be sent to the president’s office by email to president The deadline to nominate or be nominated is Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Glassman said he will be looking for a diverse group of individuals with differing perspectives and experiences.

“I hope to see a large number of our EIU community excited and interested in participating in the Vitalization Project,” he said.

He said the recommendations that will come out of the workgroups should help the university figure out how to become more effiecient in its operations, and how to resonate these changes with prospective students.

Glassman anticipates recommendations that indicate that some programs need increased funding because they could help students come to Eastern, while others suggest other programs should receive a reduced amount of funding given their enrollment size, student use and interest.

He said other recommendations could look into what will make certain academic and non-academic programs and services more aligned with what students are looking for to attract more of them.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]