UE announces new realignment plan with fewer cuts

UE announces new realignment plan with fewer cuts

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - University of Evansville President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz has announced a new realignment plan with fewer cuts.

The plan will be presented to the board Friday.

Last December, UE announced an academic realignment plan that would possibly have eliminated 17 majors from the university.

[Previous: Officials: UE no longer eliminating music program]

In February, they announced the music department will not be eliminated as part of the realignment plan.

Thursday’s announcement includes changes to academics, athletics and administration.

Officials say it ensures that UE will continue to offer 75+ majors and remain a part of Division I athletics.

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,” University President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz said. “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.”

Here are the key academic changes outlined in Thursday’s press release.

  • The Department of Music will transition into the UE Music Conservatory, allowing UE to retain all five music degrees (Music Education, Music Therapy, Music Management, Music Performance, and the BA in Music), increase revenue through enhanced and new partnerships, and expand its reach through innovative community offerings.
  • Several majors will be retained as a direct result of adopted faculty proposals that created novel, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions for the future. Majors being retained include:
    • Cognitive Science
    • Computer Science
    • Ethics and Social Change
    • History
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Spanish
  • Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Software Engineering will pause admissions of new freshmen for one year as potential options for redesigning these majors are evaluated. The hiring of qualified visiting professors will ensure all current students in these programs will be able to continue their studies through graduation without any anticipated changes to the University’s status with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) during this time.
  • Art History, Philosophy, and Religion will no longer be offered as majors to incoming students. All current students in these majors will be able to continue through graduation in their chosen disciplines. Religion will remain as a minor.

Officials say 19 tenured faculty members have elected leave voluntarily.

They will get severance of 12 month’s pay and a one-time $10,000 payment to assist with healthcare costs. These faculty members will teach through the end of the current academic year.

Five additional faculty will move into redesigned positions at UE, and three faculty will enter into a phased retirement period.

The previous plan called for the loss of 38 faculty positions.

More than 12 faculty proposals have been incorporated into the plan.

“By accepting the voluntary separation packages as well as the proposals by the faculty, we eliminated fewer positions, but we retained a lot of revenue, and able to grow some additional revenue based on those proposals,” President Pietruszkiewicz said.

Here is that list from the UE press release:

  • The creation of the UE Music Conservatory that preserves all music majors and will reach more broadly into the community to teach and introduce young people to our outstanding faculty.
  • The engagement of a faculty member to serve as a faculty recruiting coordinator. This coordinator will lead an Academic Recruitment Team consisting of faculty members who will all receive course releases to serve on this team.
  • A proposal from Biology will work to establish a Master of Science in Genetics and Disease along with a new dual BS/MS option for Biology and related majors.

Here are the key athletic changes announced in the plan:

  • The elimination of nearly $1.1 million in future expenses through changes to UE’s athletic scholarship program in golf, swimming, and track and field. No current student-athlete scholarships will be affected by these changes.
  • An annual savings of more than $300,000 through an updated room and board policy for athletic scholarship recipients.

Here are the key administrative changes from the press release:

  • The Schroeder Family School of Business Administration and the College of Engineering and Computer Science will merge into the College of Business & Engineering, allowing for synergies in cross-disciplinary programming, experiential education, and engagement with employers.
  • The elimination of a total of 12 administrative positions in the Department of Academic Affairs, Department of Fiscal Affairs and Administration, and Department of Student Affairs.
  • Phase-out of Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA) plan. Current full-time employees age 40 and over will continue to receive annual discretionary contributions. Eligibility will cease for current employees under the age of 40 and all future hires.

Members of the University of Evansville Board of Trustees have been briefed on the plan.

Officials say the Executive Committee has recommended approval to the full Board of Trustees, which will meet Friday.

“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,’' Linda White, chair of UE’s Board of Trustees said. “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.”

A group thats been vocal about the realignment plan, The Fighting Aces, released a statement Thursday evening. You can read that below:

Fighting Aces statement on the Realignment plan
Fighting Aces statement on the Realignment plan (Source: WFIE)

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