Committee uses data to update report

Kalyn Hayslett, Editor-in-Chief

The Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee updated its report by examining updated profit/loss numbers and studying philosophy courses and enrollment information at its meeting Friday.

The members reviewed an updated profit/loss document from Budget Analyst Candace Flatt for 2015 and 2016 that showed finalized numbers from the philosophy department.

Committee chair Richard Jones said the philosophy department’s general education courses and its online courses are expected to have a higher projected profit than what was estimated.

The committee will use this information for the section in its report discussing the cost and enrollment history of the philosophy program.

The report has other sections including contributions the program has made to general education and interdisciplinary functions, the program’s service functions, its graduation requirements, its contribution to the university’s curriculum and an evaluation of philosophy’s contributions to the mission and goals of the university.

To get a better understanding of the philosophy department’s enrollment numbers, committee members reviewed a PowerPoint shared by Jonelle DePetro, chair of the philosophy department.

The same PowerPoint was presented by DePetro during a meeting of the Council on Academic Affairs last week.

Jones said he will confirm the enrollment data before including it in the official report, but for now, it shows that the philosophy department’s enrollment numbers have decreased.

However, this has been seen in several departments across campus, he said.

The enrollment numbers show the number of students enrolled in general education courses and non-general education courses.

Jeanne Okrasinski, interim chair of the early elementary and mid-level education department, said the decrease in the philosophy department’s enrollment still does not compare to Eastern’s overall enrollment decline.

“Overall, the university’s enrollment has decreased much greater than the philosophy department has decreased,” she said.

The committee agreed to provide a summary after each section in its recommendations.

Jones said the section summaries will be combined to create the executive summary in the beginning of the report.

For the section addressing the philosophy department’s general education courses and its interdisciplinary contributions, Frances Murphy, a family and consumer sciences professor, compiled a list of courses that fit both descriptions.

According the curriculum chart created by Murphy, the philosophy department has four courses that are strictly general education.

There are seven courses that are both general education courses and also a part of other minor’s courses.

To demonstrate the interdisciplinary function of the philosophy program, Murphy created another chart showing that there are nine minors that use philosophy courses in their curriculum.

These minors include neuroscience, Asian studies, anthropology and religious studies.

In the general education section of the committee’s report, it said “any loss of these courses due to reorganization or elimination would detrimentally affect Eastern’s students and stand at odds with the mission the university.”

“Faculty and discipline that is so infused into interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary partnerships is just… those are the things we want, and then they’re doing it and they get penalized for it,” Murphy said. “I don’t think we should have people get away without knowing that.”

Okrasinski said only keeping philosophy as a minor would be a disservice to the faculty.

“I think that is something we need to be upfront in saying, that we view as a whole thing. That if you remove that major, what then happens to the ability to teach the rest of those classes if the faculty end up finding new homes or recruiting new faculty?” she said.

The committee will meet 1 p.m. Wednesday to continue working on its report, due by Wednesday, March 15.

Kalyn Hayslett can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].