Workgroup no.7 talks to programs considered for fourth recommendation

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

Edit: This story has been updated to to correct that it was the Master’s program in Special Education that was being discussed, not the undergraduate program. The News regrets the error.

Workgroup no. 7, looking at academic programs, gave feedback on the meetings they had with the department chairs whose programs were recommended for deletion, consolidation or outsourcing at their meeting Thursday. These programs were journalism, pre-engineering Africana studies, the Master’s  special education and philosophy. At their last meeting, they talked about the music program.

Each department was only supposed to submit a one-page response defending their program.

Business professor Scott Stevens, and medical insurance manager Angie Campbell met with the department chair of journalism and a professor from Africana Studies.

Stevens said both were well prepared and he believes every one of those programs is a quality program.

He said he was surprised about the different programs. For example, during Steven’s meeting with sociology professor Vernon Woodley, who teaches Africana Studies, Woodley said if the program were to be consolidated with another department, it would be better aligned with history than with sociology.

Stevens and Campbell said Woodley’s vision was to create a sort of interdisciplinary major that combined programs such as Africana studies, Women’s studies and even Arabic Studies to offer a sort of cultural or ethnic studies program.

Stevens said Woodley cited a study stating that businesses were looking for people with cross-cultural skills.

“He said that it is a cheap option because it is really staffed by only one unit B faculty member, and everybody else are from other areas and they have no office support at this point,” he said.

Campbell said Woodley has big ideas for the program and understands that enrollment for the program is low.

However, Woodley said the program gave students of color a reason to stay at Eastern.

“It’s something (students) identify with,” Stevens said.

The program has only six majors.

Stevens and Campbell also spoke with Sally Renaud, the director of the journalism department, and said she was passionate about the program and the successful alumni.

Stevens said during their meeting Renaud said the program is expensive because of one-on-one interactions. A maximum of 18 students are allowed in a classroom, allowing professors to interact with the students individually while they are writing stories.

Also expensive are the equipment and technology, Stevens said.

Stevens said Renaud mentioned that the journalism program would be better off merging with English, not communication studies.

“Her major concern is that with a merger they lose control of their curriculum and budgets and the budget is something that she believed they needed to be able to control for the accreditation,” Stevens said. “She felt very strongly that with a merger they would lose their accreditation.”

Campbell said Renaud was adamant that 18 was the maximum class size the program could have, and professors really do give students one-on-one attention.

“(Renaud said) if you want quality students that’s what is required to have for that program,” Campbell said.

Workgroup chair Cindy Rich said everybody would say that because they believe in their programs and are passionate about them.

Mike Murray, director of development of the Neal Welcome Center, and Heather Webb, director of the Office of Student Standards spoke with Douglas Brandt, a physics professor, who spoke on behalf of the pre-engineering program.

Murray said Brandt was like everyone else by supporting both pre engineering and the engineering co-op programs, and said these things go hand in hand but there is a distinction.

Webb said Brandt emphasized that there are some students who really wanted to study engineering, but to jump right into large institutions such of the University of Illinois or Purdue is a rough transition for them.

Therefore, Webb said she learned that students come to Eastern because of the smaller class sizes, the one-on-one instruction and to get the foundation before transferring to a larger institution that offers the full program.

Murray said this then puts Eastern into a feeder category for pre-engineering.

Webb said she questioned if Eastern really wants to be considered a feeder school and that she does not think this is a fit for who Eastern wants to be as an institution.

Rich said that with only six students in the program, it is obviously not a position Eastern wants to be in.

They also spoke to Kathlene Shank, the chair of the special education department, and said she defended the program with great passion.

Webb said Shank said there were 1,500 unfilled jobs that could have been filled by graduates of this program.

“She really emphasized that this is a program in the state of Illinois that really graduates are going to get out and fill some of those programs,” Webb said.

Webb also said the program has had some road blocks but sounds like a promising program with room to enroll more students once they are able to get past the road blocks.

“It really can serve the entire state, not just the individuals who are here in this local area,” Webb said in response to the fact that some of the program is offered online.

Murray said Shank had to turn away six students from the program because she was not sure if there would be enough support or faculty for them to be able to complete the program in a given amount of time, because those students had an “emergency waiver.”

Joyce Schumacher, accountant III, said Shank needs more resources and members agreed, but they also said everybody is asking for more resources as well.

Murray and Webb also spoke to Grant Sterling, a philosophy professor representing the department and program.

Rich said members were careful and cautious just because of the process but not secretive.

“I can’t say I’m happy with what we did because I know some people are upset but I’m proud of the work that we’ve done,” Rich said.

Campbell said they also took it seriously.

Rich explained the instructions regarding how the recommendations are to be sent to Glassman.

Rich repeated what Glassman said at the all-Task Force meeting last Wednesday, including the change in terminology for categories 2 and 3, adding new recommendations on a separate sheet of paper.

Rich explained that the Workgroup needs to format a stand-alone list of the all the recommendations under the four categories that should not include other material documentation.

After the page or pages of stand-alone list of final recommendations, the Workgroup will complete the remainder of the report.

According to the final recommendation template Glassman sent out to the workgroups, Rich said the first section is the recommendations, the second section are the minority recommendations, section three are new recommendations and section four is supporting information and materials.

Rich and the other Workgroup members said they will include all of the documentation from the preliminary report as well as the departmental responses under section four.

However, when it comes to ideas the Workgroup came up with, such as asking for a “hard look” across the academic programs at the consistency between colleges and departments, Rich asked where the workgroup should classify that under.

“Should we put that under new recommendations and call that miscellaneous?” Rich asked.

Rich said ideas such as that were labeled as other in the preliminary recommendations and asked whether they should put them under new recommendations and add a sub category.

For example, Rich said they would label the section “new recommendations 3.0” and place all the other ideas under a sub category “recommendations 3B, other recommendations.”

“Should we just put them in there and see what happens?” Rich asked. “Worst case scenario, they disappear like they did last time. Well, they didn’t disappear; they just weren’t sent off.”

Stevens asked Rich if the appendices the Workgroup had worked on really were not sent to the departments and when Rich said they were not he threw his pen down on the table.

Joyce asked if the workgroup had any latitude somewhere in their narrative to say that they think it is important that not only they post the recommendations online, but they also post the support and the department.

“I’m scared they’re just going to stick the first pages (of recommendations) online,” she said.

Music professor Danelle Larson said that is what the administration is going to do.

“But in the interest of transparency why don’t you take all of that,” Schumacher asked. “I know it’s like 500 pages but it matters.”

Rich said she would start writing the executive summary but asked members to edit it before she sends the report.

Campbell said an important thing to include in the summary is to notify the departments that may be listed under category four because previously the receiving departments were not properly told that the comment was changed to consolidate.

“The receiving department needs to have some sort of input,” Campbell said.

However, Schumacher said the department chairs would have known about the possibility of consolidation and maybe did not share it with the receiving department.

Larson said Eastern President David Glassman will speak to the different departments once the recommendations are important and there is time to share it.

Heather said if they should designate between deletion and consolidation.

Stevens said they should clarify that because a lot of the responses the workgroup received where from people viewing the recommendations as eliminations but it was not like that at all.

However, Rich said it clearly states the recommendations have to be listed without additional narrative.

Workgroup members were also supposed to tally up the ratings after the meeting however there was a dispute with the Open Meetings Act.

Rich said she would contact Rob Miller, the university’s general counsel, about it.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]