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IPFW Community Shocked by Restructuring Recommendations

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Photo credit: Mikaela Conley

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Written by: Bernadette BeckerOctober 19, 2016

The IPFW community was shell-shocked Tuesday morning.

Faculty were informed via email Tuesday morning that more than 30 programs, departments and degrees are being suspended or eliminated as soon as the upcoming semester as a result of the University Strategic Alignment Process recommendations. The email was the finalization of the USAP report released by Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management Carl Drummond.

After a Fort Wayne Senate meeting where faculty discussed and learned about the impending USAP changes, Drummond said in an email Monday, there was not going to be a public release of the information and the deans and chairs would be releasing the updated document to faculty. Instead, the information was quickly shared online by faculty. Charlene Elsby of the Department of Philosophy said she found out her department was eliminated via Facebook.

Since the release, there has been a fury of social media outrage.

At the Senate meeting Monday afternoon, Drummond said nearly $200,000 is expected to be saved from the implementation of the USAP proposals. This is to be done through the elimination, suspension or restructuring of 31 programs, departments, and degrees. Those departments affected include French, German, philosophy, women’s studies, geology, several pre-med and pre-dentistry programs, several math programs, legal studies, public management, several teaching programs, several graduate programs, the doctorate of nursing practice, which is the first and only doctorate to be offered at IPFW.

Dissent and questions during the Senate meeting made for a tense exchange. The Senate, comprised of faculty members representing Indiana University and Purdue University, is supposed to help govern IPFW. Faculty at the meeting spoke of the low university morale and fear of retribution for speaking out against the current changes.

Another phrase used to explain IPFW’s status was “crisis to crisis operation” because many major changes have been made to the university in the past few years.

Many questions were also raised about the USAP recommendations during the meeting, especially because of the apparent lack of discussion about creative solutions for making up the budgetary shortfall. This budgetary shortfall, however, is difficult to quantify because of a lack of transparency in university finances.

During the same meeting where the USAP proposal was discussed, a resolution was passed to force the university to publicly release audited financial statements, rather than simply the budget estimates. Many faculty members have hinted that the actual distribution of funds is intentionally opaque, possibly because of the funds from tuition used to subsidize the sports programs. IPFW has 218 students participate in sports programs, according to Not In Our Future, an organization working to stop USAP.

IPFW has had a 30 percent decline in enrollment over the past five years, Drummond said at the meeting. This is part of what the administration claims is precipitating the necessary realignment in structure. Decline of college enrollment, however, has been a national trend since 2011, according to National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

USAP and the Legislative Services Agency recommendations were “inexorably linked” in the minds of the Trustees, Drummond said in a prepared statement at the Senate meeting.

Drummond said when he and Chancellor Vicky Carwein met with the Purdue Board of Trustees and President Mitch Daniels, it was clear that the impending LSA agreement negotiations were impacted by USAP implementation.

“The Trustees have directly ordered me to complete USAP recommendations 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3…. They are not interested in a phased, multi-year approach, further study, or analysis,”  Drummond said, with a semblance of bitterness. He concluded saying, “I feel deeply the pain of these changes – and I am sure I always will.”

“The alignment plan recommendations were initiated and prepared entirely at Fort Wayne through extensive collaboration between administrators and faculty,” Daniels said in an email Tuesday evening.

However, faculty feel misled because of previous information from the administration, said Bernd Buldt, chair of the Philosophy department.

In an email from the Chancellor in July of this year, IPFW faculty were assured that the implementation of the USAP proposal would be a gradual “multi-step, multi-year process” without loss of job for tenured or tenure track faculty, and that “all relevant and applicable IPFW senate and university policies and procedures will be followed.”

Although this has been promised by the administration to faculty, there was no such assurance that continuing lecturers and clerical staff will maintain their jobs.

Elsby said the Senate has procedures for the elimination of programs, departments and degrees that were entirely circumvented by USAP. The faculty input was not truly sought.

As Drummond’s comments from the Senate meeting explained, not much is up for discussion: “Any alternative suggestions must meet or exceed the reductions described in (Tuesday’s) document in order to be given consideration.”

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Student government officers addressed students protesting the USAP recommendations Tuesday evening.

Student Body President Andrew Kreager said IPSGA voiced concern over the information outlined in Action Plan 41 and USAP, but felt that the plan in its entirety was for the good of the university. He was not under the impression that it would include the elimination of programs.

Ann Livschiz, director of the honors program and an associate history professor, explained, though this decision is being presented as a cost-saving decision, there is little significant evidence.

Livschiz, Elsby, Buldt and others have said that none of the programs eliminated or suspended were operating at a deficit. Without cutting tenured and tenure track professors, Livschiz said she is unsure how significant money is going to be saved, especially an amount of money that would justify limiting student access to comprehensive education.

Damien Fleming, an associate professor of English and coordinator of the Medieval Studies Program, expressed his sentiments that: “Fort Wayne (has) grow(n) and develop(ed) in wonderful ways. These changes to IPFW run counter to that, and do a deep disservice to this community and region.”

For current students, USAP is not necessarily an immediate danger, except if one was interested in one of the immediately suspended degree programs. Those already enrolled in the programs are to be given a type of grace period during which to complete their degree requirements.

As of Tuesday night, women’s studies students were already protesting at Kettler Hall and organizing alongside those from geology and philosophy: all three departments/programs have been cut.

There will be a protest Oct. 26 and 27 by independent group Not In Our Future at the Kettler Obelisk.

The complete list of the programs affected

Undergraduate degree programs or majors suspended July 1, 2017:

Environmental Geology

Environmental Policy

Undergraduate degree program or majors suspended:

Individual degree programs:

French

Geology (BA & BS)

German

Philosophy

Women’s Studies

Majors within departments:

Biology Pre-Dentistry

Chemistry Pre-Dentistry

Chemistry Pre-Medicine

Math Computing

Math Business

Math Statistics

Legal Studies

Public Management

Stand-alone teaching programs (COAS departments and Educational Studies will craft a program for secondary teacher education):

Biology Teaching

Chemistry Teaching

French Teaching

German Teaching

Spanish Teaching

Physics Teaching

Graduate programs suspended

Doctorate of Nursing Practice

Applied Mathematics Operations Research

Mathematics Applied Statistics Certificate

Masters in Mathematics

Departments or programs eliminated January 1, 2017:

Geology

Philosophy

Women’s Studies

Departments merged July 1, 2017:

Anthropology & Sociology

MCET & CEIT

Departments merged July 1, 2018:

VPA and Fine Art

Additional Measures for Consideration and Implementation:

Full implementation of SD 96-4 “IPFW Policy Statement on Teaching Duties of Upper-level Academic Administrators”

Transition department chair positions from FY to AY with summer administrative stipend

Create voluntary incentive program for faculty transition from 3/3 to 4/4

Reconfigure and reduce central academic administration