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U of Evansville proposes cutting 3 departments, some faculty

December 11, 2020 GMT

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The University of Evansville has proposed cutting three departments, a quarter of its faculty and 17 majors in response to what its administration is calling changes in higher education.

The music, electrical engineering and computer science, and philosophy and religion departments would be terminated under the proposal, along with 12 associated majors, the Evansville Courier and Press reported.

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Five other majors — Spanish, history, political science, art history and physics — also would be cut. The proposal also calls for the merger of the school’s business and engineering colleges.

“The proposed academic alignment plan is designed to eliminate underserved and unsustainable programs and allows for the investment of more resources to the greatest areas of growth,” university President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz wrote in an email to staff Thursday evening outlining the proposal.

All students will be able to complete their majors, according to the email. Program changes would not take effect until fall 2022.

Faculty have 30 days to review the proposal and offer feedback.

Thirty-five to 40 of about 150 faculty positions would be affected under the plan. The school will start by offering buyouts. Those who agree would receive a year’s salary plus $10,000 for health care expenses. Other professors would be given 18-months notice.

“It strikes me as draconian,” said Daniel Byrne, a history professor and secretary-treasurer of the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Since the summer, some professors have been pressuring the university for more say in governing decisions in response to the rumored cuts. Most faculty members formed a chapter of the American Association of University Professors in the fall and launched a campaign called “Save UE.”

The campaign culminated in a no-confidence vote against Pietruszkiewicz. The school’s board, however, has backed the president.