Faculty Senate votes to support Teach Out

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

The Faculty Senate discussed the report it sent to the administration reviewing Workgroup No.7’s recommendations on academic programs and passed a resolution supporting a Teach Out at its meeting Tuesday.

The Faculty Senate had created a subcommittee in February to review the recommendations on the programs in Africana studies, philosophy, and career and technical education, which were recommended for deletion or consolidation by Workgroup No.7. In its report, the subcommittee determined that the three programs should be given time and encouraged to enact the structural changes currently underway instead of being eliminated.
“Dismantling these three programs or otherwise enforcing Workgroup No.7’s recommendations would at this time likely result in more harm than good,” according to the report. The Faculty Senate believes that EIU can ill afford at this juncture to eliminate programs without a demonstrated benefit to the long-term fiscal and/or academic health of this university.”

The committee found that the Africana studies program is in discussion with the Latin American studies, Asian studies and women’s studies programs to consolidate some current offerings and find innovative programming to meet the needs of the current student population.

“It would better serve our institution to allow these changes to be driven by faculty aware of the needs, strengths, and challenges of their programs and the ways that diverse programs can work together, than to make an arbitrary ‘top-down’ edict that would enforce an elimination or consolidation of a major,” the report said.

For career and technological education, the subcommittee found the program has shown strong enrollment numbers until the year 2013. Though the program has seen low enrollment in recent years, the subcommittee wrote, there is high demand in the field for workers with a career and technological education skill set.

“Such strong numbers of graduating students (until very recently), coupled with promising job prospects, would indicate that eliminating CTE is premature at this time,” the committee wrote.

Regarding philosophy, the subcommittee wrote that eliminating it would lead to a loss of credibility as a university and that the program has the best student-credit-hour production in the College of Arts and Humanities.

Like the Africana studies program, philosophy has also been engaged in conversations with related programs to develop new interdisciplinary programs.

In its notes on Workgroup No. 7’s budgetary analyses, the subcommittee wrote that both philosophy and Africana studies generate significant profits when examining program profit/loss analyses by “major regardless of subject.”

Faculty Senate chair Jemmie Robertson said it seems like various committees, including the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review committee, which looked at the philosophy program, all believe that philosophy is central to the university’s mission and core values.

The Faculty Senate’s final report was sent to Eastern President David Glassman, Provost Blair Lord and the Board of Trustees.

Lord thanked the Faculty Senate for the feedback at the meeting and said no final decisions have on these programs have been made.

“There is still an ongoing consideration process,” Lord said.

He did report that the president’s council has been going through recommendations from the other vitalization project workgroups.

When making the report, Faculty Senate member CC Wharram said the subcommittee read through recommendations from the Workgroup and interviewed various representative and departments.

“We thought about some of the ramifications instead of just looking at the data,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the Faculty Senate voted to pass a resolution supporting a Teach Out for Illinois Higher Education members of the EIU-UPI are attending in response to a lack of funding for state universities and colleges.

The statewide Teach Out will include universities, community colleges and other coalition partners.

The Teach Out will involve taking students and faculty to the rotunda in the Springfield Capital so they could teach in the building.

Jon Blitz, president of the EIU-UPI, said there will be buses rented for people who want to go.

“We’re going to teach there, basically make a show of it, that we can’t do this anymore,” Blitz said.

To explain the reasoning behind the Teach Out, Blitz gave a presentation about how higher education funding in Illinois has been cut throughout the years and the effect it has had.

According to a chart Blitz showed, the total number of full-time employees dropped by about 35 percent from 2006 to 2016, and the number of civil service employees dropped by about 45 percent during the same time.

In his presentation, Blitz said that when adjusted for inflation, the average state appropriation to Eastern from 1973 to 2015 was $57.8 million.

For 2015, the last year with a state appropriation, Eastern received $43 million, which is 26 percent below this average.

When it comes to losing state-level funding, Blitz said, higher education is one of the areas that is worst off.

When comparing the FY 2015 enacted budget to FY 2016 maximum authorized spending, higher education took the biggest hit in education, with a 67.8 percent cut.

K-12 education was cut by 1.1 percent, while early childhood education funding increased by 7.5 percent.

“We’re being singled out; the data shows that,” Blitz said.

Nationally, from 2000 to 2015, in fifteen of the largest states, Illinois lost 54 percent in per-student funding. The only state doing worse was Arizona, until Illinois stopped receiving an appropriation.

Faculty Senate member Billy Hung asked the senate to consider telling their students about the Teach Out and let them make up work for the missed day.

“We have to fight for what we believe in, and part of that fighting has to be getting warm bodies at these events to have a show of support because they are elected officials who decide how the money is spent, and they need to feel the pressure from their electorate,” Hung said.

However, Faculty Senate member Amy Rosenstein said there is already an erroneous perception that people in higher education can do their job anywhere and do not work hard enough and suggested broadcasting to legislators the work professors do on campus.

“Someone needs to let the public know we’re working our butts off here,” she said. “I feel like that needs to be out there.”

Faculty Senate member Todd Bruns said anyone who thinks faculty members are lazy is going to think that regardless of the Teach Out.

“This is an opportunity for us to go to Springfield and talk to legislators to argue the point (Rosenstein’s) raising, which is how much work we do, how much these investments are needed,” Bruns said.

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