EVANSVILLE (WEHT) -The President’s Council at the University of Evansville presented a proposed academic realignment plan Thursday to UE faculty for their review and input. The plan is designed to “respond to the changing demographics in higher education,” officials said.

The plan includes eliminating the departments of: music; philosophy & religion; and electrical engineering and computer science including the 12 associated majors of cognitive science, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, ethics and social change, music, music education, music performance, music therapy, philosophy, religion, and software engineering.

Five additional majors, art history, history, physics, political Science, and Spanish will also be eliminated.

All current students will be able to complete their majors, officials said. Academic program changes will not take effect until Fall 2022.

Consolidating the four colleges and schools into three colleges: William L. Ridgway College of Arts & Sciences, College of Education & Health Sciences, and College of Business & Engineering (including the Center for the Advancement of Learning) is also part of the plan.

“In developing this academic realignment plan, we were guided by the following four criteria: (1) the level of support provided to other UE academic programs, majors, and areas of growth; (2) the level of contribution to the University’s enrollment pipeline; (3) current enrollment levels and enrollment trends within departments and majors; and (4) financial analysis of each department and major,” officials said.

The draft plan also provides for the reduction of faculty positions in art history, biology, chemistry, creative writing/English, history, math, physics, political science, and Spanish. Faculty members whose positions are eliminated will be given 18 months advance notice.

UE will also offer a voluntary separation option for faculty members in the programs impacted that includes salary for 12 months without teaching or other University responsibilities plus a one-time, $10,000 payment to assist with healthcare costs. Details regarding the voluntary separation option will be provided to the faculty Friday.

Faculty will have about 30 days to review the proposed academic realignment plan, including the data that served as a foundation for the draft plan, and offer meaningful input. The data will be made available on Friday and will be accessible with UE credentials.

As part of this review and feedback, there will be zoom sessions for faculty, staff and students with information forthcoming. Once the faculty’s recommendations are received, UE expects to finalize the academic plan at the start of 2021, officials say.

“My heart goes out to our faculty first. This is not something that you come to the University as a President and want to do nor was it anything that I expected to do, but it’s also is the nature where we are right now,” said UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz.

President Pietruszkiewicz said these changes are predicted to impact between 35 and 40 faculty members, including History Professor Dr. Daniel Byrne.

“He will be offering us an incentive to leave by the end of the semester next spring semester with one year’s pay or that we could stay one more year teaching and then be terminated,” said Dr. Byrne. He’s been a history professor at UE for 15 years. Although, University of Evansville history majors will be history by fall of 2022 according to this plan.

Dr. Byrne says UE is currently more than 2 million dollars in red, but he believes making such severe cuts isn’t the solution.

“We could consolidate some of our administrators. We actually have more administrators than we have faculty and since the prime concern of this institution is academics, we think we should put our priorities on that,” Dr. Byrne explained.

The entire plan can be read here.

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(This story was originally published on December 10, 2020)