Administration, philosophy come to agreement

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

The university administration has withdrawn its recommendation for the elimination of the philosophy major to the board of trustees, Eastern President David Glassman said in an email to the News Thursday morning.

The program was originally scheduled to be considered for deletion at the board’s Friday meeting.

The fate of Africana Studies, career and technical education, and adult and community education is still scheduled to be voted on.

The decision to rescind the elimination recommendation for the time being comes as a result of an agreement made between the administration and philosophy departments.

Glassman said this will allow philosophy faculty the opportunity to retain and “attempt to vitalize” their major in the next couple of years.

The agreement is for philosophy to reduce their faculty through attrition from seven full-time faculty members to four and get at least 20 philosophy majors in the program by 2020.

Failure to meet either of these conditions means the administration will bring back the elimination recommendation in front of the board of trustees, Glassman said.

“I am very pleased that this agreement could be made through collaborative discussions between the administration and the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, the chair of the Philosophy Department and the philosophy faculty,” he said.  “This is a positive example of shared governance and the impact that faculty committee review such as that by the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee can have in the decision-making process.”

Shared governance bodies, such as the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee, the Faculty Senate and the Council on Academic Affairs all suggested philosophy retention after reviewing the program this semester.

Jonelle DePetro, chair of the philosophy department, said another part of the agreement was the understanding that teaching has to be a priority and that their workload would increase.

“It’s all things that follow from the idea that we’re losing faculty and that we need to bring in more majors,” she said.

The philosophy program already has three faculty departures planned, with one professor taking a job in another state and two planning to retire by 2019.

Throughout the vitalization process, DePetro said, the philosophy department came up with ideas such as an ethics certificate to help “vitalize” themselves.

However, because they did not know what would happen to the philosophy program, all of those ideas were put on hold for the time being.

Now, without this uncertainty, DePetro said the department can implement some of the ideas it had several months ago.

“What’s exciting now is that we get to move forward,” DePetro said.

The philosophy major currently has 10 students enrolled, or 11 if counting one student who is part of the National Student Exchange.

While DePetro said she does not necessarily agree with the importance of increasing the number of majors, because philosophy was a profitable program that was serving a lot of students to begin with, she said it was still achievable.

While the department has been improving itself, she said, it is only recently that it has thought about recruitment in the way it does now.

“We were always welcoming to majors and encouraging people who had a talent for philosophy to pursue a degree or to double major,” she said. “But we didn’t feel pressured to have a certain number of majors.”

DePetro said it is now going to be more important for philosophy to recruit, but that is what the new ideas the program is going to implement is for.

The department is also going to market itself more than in the past, she added, though they do not have the resources to do a lot of it.

“We have to be creative about how we do that, how we get the word out to people, how we let people know we exist,” she said. “We’re going to be working harder than ever to recruit majors and help see them through to graduation and achieving their goals.”

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