Dozens of programs could be on the chopping block at Doane University in Crete.
The school’s president called the cuts “strategic and necessary.”
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Others worry they cut to the heart of the institution’s liberal arts mission.
Junior sociology major Aidan Mendoza said students were notified Monday.
“It kind of caught me off guard getting the email,” Mendoza said.
Doane has just under a thousand students on campus and nearly 2,000 more online and at its Lincoln Campus.
Jeremy Henning, a junior History major said students have been told very little about the cuts.
“I personally am not very happy with it,” Henning said.
The list of recommended program eliminations includes: Asian Studies; Computational science/Computational Thinking; Criminal Justice; English as a Second Language; Film and Media Production; Gender Studies; German, and German as a secondary endorsement; Graphic Arts and Print Design; Health and Society; The Honors Program; International Studies; Law, Politics and Society; Philosophy; Physics; Political Science; Religious Studies; Master of Arts and Counseling (Lincoln Campus.)
“Doane is a liberal arts school and a lot of those classes are a part of what people consider to a part of liberal arts,” said Salem Kessler, sophomore psychology major.
Doane’s president said recommendations are the result of a process that started in January.
“It was trying to position ourselves to be sustainable and more relevant going forward,” Doane University Jacque Carter said.
And then COVID-19 hit.
“And so when you add that to the shifting higher education landscape, we thought absolutely we need to do this,” Carter said.
Carter said he can’t give specifics at this point on the amount of savings the cuts would bring, the number of faculty positions eliminated or administrative cuts that are being considered.
“I don’t want to talk about the total amount right now because the board has yet to approve it,” Carter said.
He said the process was a “bottom up” review of 250 programs at the university.
The institution hired a nationally-known consultant to get faculty input on how many students they had in their classes, the market demand for their courses and how they fit in with a vision in the future.
Each program was ranked by the data received and then submitted to the president.
A team consisting of the president, provost and chief financial officer made the recommendations.
“To right-size ourselves and align ourselves with our priorities,” Carter said.
He said the savings will allow the university more flexibility.
“And that way we could budget in resources for faculty raises, investment in new programs,” Carter said.
However, physics professor Chris Wentworth said many faculty are unclear about the direction the university is headed.
“It’s really going to be a devastating change,” Wentworth said.
Wentworth has taught at Doane for 30 years and is the president of the American Association of University Professors at Doane.
He said there has been a lack of transparency in the process.
“President Carter needs to send out a written report why he chose the particular programs that he did,” Wentworth said.
He said some of the programs selected for elimination rank in the data. And cutting some programs will not save money.
“Most of them cost very little money or actually they are making money,” Wentworth said.
Travis Handler is a junior political science major.
If his major is eliminated, Doane will stop taking any incoming students into that program, but allow Handler to graduate.
“Knowing that I’m going to have to continue this education through adjunct professors, or whatever they choose to go through, and not through these professors who are engaging and have instilled in me a passion about the subject, is incredibly disheartening,” Handler said.
He said he may consider transferring to another school if that happens.
“It is definitely a possibility and not something I would have considered before,” Handler said.
He said what makes it more difficult is that students have been given little information about the cuts.
“We weren’t even made part of the conversation to any extent at all,” Handler said.
Carter said the student government was briefed in February. He said the question of student engagement is a good one.
“We’re working with our student government now to get further understanding and get information to them to better understand the process is,” Carter said.
Univeristy officials believe they have been transparent.
Handler said students are planning a walk out and protest on Friday morning.
“We’re not going to go down without a fight and we’re not going to take this lightly,” Handler said.
The Doane faculty have until Oct. 30 to provide feedback.
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on the recommendations during its November meeting.
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