Academic programs present case to CAA

Chrissy Miller, Administration reporter

Programs recommended for elimination or reorganization by Workgroup No. 7, which looked at academic programs during the vitalization project, presented their cases before the Council on Academic Affairs Thursday.

Four programs- philosophy, adult and community education, Africana studies and career and technical development- are now being considered for deletion or consolidation.

Representatives from the bachelor’s in adult and community education and the bachelor’s in philosophy each came to deliver fifteen-minute speeches with ten minutes set aside after each for questions. However, representatives from the bachelor’s in Africana studies were not present to give a speech, because the department felt it had already answered all questions in a report it gave to Workgroup No. 7.

This report was included in an email to the CAA.

The presentations were given to the CAA so it could provide Eastern President David Glassman with its own set of recommendations and make sure the departments in question were able to have their voices heard.

CAA Chair Stacey Ruholl said the CAA would focus on three items when evaluating the programs.

These included the centrality of the program to the university’s mission, outlining what other majors, minors, or concentrations require in the program and the number of students impacted. They will also look at the quality of the program and how eliminating it would impact the faculty’s ability to provide service to the university.

Stephen Lucas, chair of the department of secondary education, said his department had been planning on winding down their adult and community education program before the vitalization project was even announced.

“We felt like it had a really good start. It’s unfortunate that we knew going in that we would require it to be over-resourced in order to develop because it was so brand new and innovative,” Lucas said. “We had really gotten that support from the campus but as soon as the campus started feeling its budget woes, we knew that it really wasn’t viable to expect a tenure-track surge or the kind of resources you would really need to develop that over time.”

Lucas said his department would prefer the program be put on hiatus until the funding or opportunity arises to bring it back, seeing as the program is only three years old and has shown the potential for growth.

Jonelle DePetro, chair of the philosophy department, said the major draws qualified professors in the field to the school.

Without it, she said, these professors may choose to teach elsewhere.

The philosophy department covers both analytic and continental philosophy, which is uncommon in most departments, DePetro said.

“We won’t have sixty majors, but we’re integrated into the curriculum in ways that are good and benefits the students, and other programs acknowledge and ask us to participate in their programs,” DePetro said. “So, you kind of get the major as a bonus.”

CAA member Gary Aylesworth said the philosophy department would be losing several faculty positions over the next few years.

“Two of us are going to retire shortly and another one of our colleagues will be giving notice (of his plans to leave) by fall term, I’m certain, to be closer to his family,” Aylesworth said.

Aylesworth said when he met with Glassman, the president indicated that he does not plan on replacing the faculty members who leave.

CAA member Misty Rhoads said she thought it would be unwise to eliminate the philosophy department.

“I think it makes us look desperate at a time we already look desperate,” Rhoads said. “When you cut something that large, we’re already known to be in trouble. We’re already having trouble getting students here. We’re already having trouble with parents buying the idea that they want to send their students here. Even for people who don’t believe the philosophy major might be important, if you’ve got parents that are sending children to colleges, they probably went to a college that had philosophy. At least it’s something they’ve heard of. It’s a standard.”

In the report the Africana Studies Program sent to Workgroup No.7, they stated that the program plays a critical role in increasing Eastern’s minority enrollment.

In its report, it also stated the cost of the program was minimal compared to its value and the fact that it has a 100 percent graduation rate.

Anita Shelton, interim dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, said the department plays an intangible role and pays its way through its general education courses.

“I have heard them make the argument that even though not many students choose it as a major, the fact of its existence on campus is a confirmation that EIU is a place that values this,” Shelton said.

Ruholl said she would have a rough draft of the CAA’s recommendations up for discussion at the next meeting in anticipation of meeting the deadline to submit their recommendations.


Chrissy Miller can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].