Committee turns full attention to philosophy

Jason Hardimon, Staff Reporter


The Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee officially decided to turn its attention to a review of the philosophy department during a meeting Monday.

Richard Jones, chair of the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee, proposed that the committee do this and all members agreed.

John Emmett, a representative from the College of Education and Professional Studies, said the Council on Academic Affairs expressed that they would have no concerns if the committee decided to review the three additional programs under consideration for elimination or reorganization, which are Africana Studies, adult and community education and career and technical development.

The CAA said they would only be looking at the curricular impact of eliminating courses, Emmett told the committee.

Emmett said he favors a thorough review of the philosophy department over a review of the additional three programs because of time constraints.

Jones said Jon Blitz, president of the EIU-UPI, reiterated the position he stated in the committee’s first meeting – that the committee only needs to conduct a review of philosophy, as it is the only program that could lead to a reduction of Unit-A employees.

Jeanne Okrasinski, an at-large member of the committee, said at this point, the bachelor’s in adult and continuing education was going on hiatus regardless of what the committee recommends.

The program has no intention in going forward because it does not have the necessary faculty, she said.

Frances Murphy, a representative of the Lumpkin College of Business and Applied Sciences, agreed with the other members of the committee but also suggested that the committee not rule out some review of the other programs.

“I wonder if at the end of this process we might look again at these programs and see if we want make a statement, even if we’re not conducting a full review,” Murphy said.

Considerations Moving Forward

Jones said as of Monday, the committee had no additional information on the profit and loss sheets that had been provided from the vitalization project or from the final report of Workgroup no.7, which originally suggested deleting or consolidating these programs.

Jones said the profit and loss sheets in the report did not account for honors courses and other “aberrations.”

Jones stressed that determining the full value of a credit unit could be difficult and that the committee would have to gather additional information beyond what was supplied to determine this.

Sometimes departments will use partial credit units for honors sections of particular courses. Jones said the committee would need to consider how many ways a credit unit could be parsed out.

Murphy suggested the committee consider how eliminating philosophy would affect Eastern’s ranking in prominent publications compared to other universities such as the U.S. News and World Report.

Eastern’s ranking in the 2017 edition of the report is no. 40 among regional universities in the Midwest, including private universities. It is ranked no. 6 for regional public universities.

Jones said he suspects that part of the committee’s preliminary draft of their recommendations will have to include an interdisciplinary perspective.

“Compared to other departments, the philosophy department’s commitment to [general education] is not to be underestimated,” Jones said.

According to page 31 of Workgroup no. 7’s final report, philosophy may not be sustainable as a major on its own.

In the philosophy department’s rebuttal to Workgroup no. 7’s final report, it said the program has always been best or second best when it comes to student credit hour production.

Jones said the committee needs to consider whether that information is significant.

Okrasinski asked that the committee find out what the Workgroup’s definition of sustainability is.

According to the members of the committee, Jonelle DePetro, chair of the philosophy department, is ready to prove that philosophy is “in the black” financially.

Jones said the idea that reassigning credit hour production to other areas could be more profitable is driving the administration’s review of these four programs.

“So, it’s not about red or black… It’s about another color: green,” Murphy said.

The committee will submit its final report to the administration on March 15.

Jason Hardimon can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].