BOT hears vitalization concerns, approves increase in housing, dining rates

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

The Board of Trustees heard vitalization project concerns and approved an increasing in housing and dining rates and the university’s search for external marketing services Friday.

Jemmie Robertson, chair of the Faculty Senate, shared concerns he had heard had regarding the project, specifically academic programs being considered for elimination or reorganization.

Some of the thoughts he talked about were his own, though a majority were concerns communicated to him by faculty colleagues, students and alumni.

Four programs are being considered for elimination or reorganization as a result of recommendations by Workgroup no.7, which looked at academic programs during the vitalization project.

The programs being considered are the bachelor’s degrees in philosophy, adult and community education, Africana studies and career and technical development.

Of these, the deletion of the philosophy program is the one that could lead to a reduction of Unit A employees.

Robertson asked the board to consider what would happen if the philosophy department received recruiting money comparable to that given to similarly-sized athletic programs.

“What if instead of cutting, we provided philosophy with a small portion of the $1.5 million subsidy EIU is providing EIU athletics, so that we can help the philosophy department rebuild its student numbers?” he asked.

Robertson said some of his faculty colleagues take issue with the profit and loss data given to members of Workgroup no.7.

In these sheets, intercollegiate athletics was given credit for housing and dining dollars generated by student athletes, while philosophy and other academic programs did not get this credit.

“Why do we continue to subsidize non-academic programs while we are debating cutting academic programs?” Robertson said.

Another concern the Faculty Senate had was their late inclusion into the vitalization project.

Robertson said his colleagues do not think the senate’s inclusion now escapes the fact that the vitalization project was conceived in a way that it bypassed previously existing shared governance groups on campus.

To address these issues, the Faculty Senate recently voted to hold a referendum for all faculty members concerning their confidence in Workgroup no. 7’s final recommendations, though a date for this has not been set yet.

The Women’s Studies program wrote a letter to Eastern President David Glassman protesting the potential elimination of philosophy and Africana Studies as well.

In the letter, which 30 members of the program signed, they wrote that the programs represent two pillars of a liberal education.

“Both offer our students critical perspectives on ethics and social justice as well as preparation for responsible citizenship and participation in the democratic process in our increasingly global and interconnected world,” the letter wrote.

Jeannie Ludlow, coordinator of Women’s Studies, said the department wanted to make the point that not everything can be measured in dollars and sense.

“I know the president knows that, I know the Board of Trustees knows that, but we also know that we’re being treated now by the state as if that’s the only thing that matters and we are resisting that,” she said.

Because Workgroup no. 7 said said the Women’s studies department was doing well in profits and loss and suggested it get more resources, Ludlow said they had a “platform of privilege” to stand on to talk about the consequences of cutting programs.

“The units that need more resources are the units that are struggling, not the units that are doing well,” she said.

Glassman said the Faculty Senate’s concerns and the letter from Women’s Studies, as well as comments from others he has heard from, are being considered.

“We all agree in the value of teaching philosophy to our students,” he said in response to comments made by Robertson on the program. “Whether or not a major continues in that area, we will continue to teach philosophy.”

A proposed 2% increase in housing and dining rates for FY18 was also approved during the meeting.

In the last three years, there have been two years without an increase and one other 2 % increase in FY16, said Lynette Drake, interim vice president for student affairs.

Drake said this increase represents the unanimous recommendations from the Student Housing Bond Revenue committee.

Also approved was a new criminology bachelor’s program and the search for an external marketing service, as recommended during the vitalization project.

Three agencies submitted proposals and the administration is now in the preliminary stage of reviewing them.

“It’s making sure we have the right materials, we’re giving the right message, that will attract students to come and visit,” Glassman said.

These agencies would help Eastern develop a brand and help the university with target media buys among other things.

Glassman said he hopes for the administration to make a decision on which agency to use next month and have them start immediately.

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