Petition created to urge UE president to resign or be fired

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EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT) A change-dot-org petition has been created after University of Evansville President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz’s proposal to eliminate several departments and consolidate the four colleges into three.

As of noon on Monday, the petition, started by Jonathan Kitto, had received 3,356 signatures.

Former UE grad Nathan Elkins, who is now an associate professor of art history at Baylor University in Texas, also wrote a letter to the UE Board of Trustees and President Pietruszkiewicz. In it, he says:

I understand that some financial cuts need to be made at UE, but I ask you to allow faculty to
have a significant and influential role in the decision-making process. The faculty know the
programs and students the best and most successful universities are built around the model of
shared governance. As a faculty member at an institution with a healthy shared-governance
model, and as a two-term faculty senator and member of the faculty senate’s executive
committee, I know how imperative shared governance is. It is very clear to me that UE needs to
do much better with regard to shared governance with the faculty.

Faculty and staff at UE met Friday via a zoom meeting to discuss President Pietruszkiewicz’s plan, but faculty are not the only people upset and vowing to fight. Faculty also plan to give Pietruszkiewicz this list of questions regarding his proposal on Tuesday.

Some people say they just wish the draft academic realignment plan was created with faculty member’s input.

“I think that was a huge under step by the university is just to make it so secretive and lack of transparency,” said Former University of Evansville Music student, Greg Keith.

Keith used to work at UE as an adjunct professor. He said even though he no longer works at UE, he was sad to see UE President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz’s draft academic realignment plan nixing the music department along with two other departments.

“I know that there is opportunity for people to have a discussion over the next 30 days, but I really think we missed the opportunity right off the bat to show input was wanted,” Keith explained.

Electrical engineering and computer science along with the philosophy and religion departments will be eliminated along with 12 related majors, something that’s not sitting well with some UE graduates.

“Reading about all those different programs being cut those are all really important to the identity of the university of Evansville and the type of students that choose the university as their college,” said Brittany Sullivan, University of Evansville Alumna.

“By definition UE is a liberal arts university,” said Nathan Elkins, “if you kill the humanities and kill the liberal arts education, what have you got left but professional programs?”

Former UE graduate Nathan Elkins is now an associate professor of art history at Baylor University. He said the range of courses offered at UE set him and other graduates apart after graduation.

“And I hear this all the time. Corporations don’t want to hire people that know accounting and nothing else,” Elkins explained. “They want critical, analytical, problem solving kind of thinkers which is what the humanities teaches.”

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(This story was originally published on December 14, 2020)

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