The University of Evansville has released an updated realignment plan. The university says the plan follows three months of discussions with faculty, students and other stakeholders, and includes fewer faculty and program cutbacks than its original proposal outlined in December.
The original plan called for the elimination of three departments and more than a dozen majors, as well as nearly 40 faculty jobs.
UE says, under the new plan, it will continue to offer more than 75 majors, remain a part of NCAA Division I athletics, and all current students will be able to graduate with their selected majors.
“After dozens of meetings with faculty, students, parents, and alumni, I am pleased to announce that this plan meets our financial goals with far fewer reductions,” UE President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz said in a news release. “The plan puts us on very solid financial footing and will allow us to strategically invest in our students, faculty, staff, and programs going forward.”
Among the academic changes in the plan, the university’s Department of Music will transition into the UE Music Conservatory, which will allow for the retention of all five music degrees. Other majors being retained include cognitive science, computer science, ethics and social change, history, physics, political science and Spanish.
The university will pause admissions for majors in computer engineering, electrical engineering and software engineering for one year “as potential options for redesigning these majors are evaluated.”
However, UE will no longer offer art history, philosophy and religion as majors to incoming students. The university says, though, that all current students will be able to continue through graduation.
With regard to faculty positions, the university says 19 tenured faculty members have chosen to participate in a voluntary separation program, which includes 12 months of severance pay and a one-time, $10,000 payment to help with healthcare costs. Five faculty will move into redesigned positions at UE and three will enter into a phased retirement period.
The realignment also includes administrative changes. They include merging the Schroeder Family School of Business Administration and the College of Engineering and Computer Science into the College of Business & Engineering.
Twelve administrative positions in various departments are being eliminated, and the university will phase out its Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association plan, though current employees aged 40 and over will continue to receive their annual contributions.
On the athletic side of the plan, the university says it will eliminate nearly $1.1 million in future expenses by making changes to its scholarship program in golf, swimming, and track and field, though no current scholarships will be affected. UE also plans to update its room and board policy for scholarship recipients, which it says will save more than $300,000 annually.
“Higher education is constantly evolving, and the University of Evansville is being innovative and adapting to meet the needs of future students and remain financially strong,” said Linda White, chair of the UE Board of Trustees. “The UE Administration has done an admirable job of managing what we knew would be a challenging process. We are grateful to the entire UE community for their input, their patience, and their support through this time. Our students, faculty, and staff are personally thanked for creating the future University of Evansville.”
The original plan drew criticism from faculty, students and others in the community. An online petition was created that called for the removal of Pietruszkiewicz from office.