Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The "Crisis of Confidence" series is a multi-year effort by the Tri States Public Radio to document the impact the two-year state budget impasse had on Western Illinois University and the ongoing recovery efforts at WIU. State support for public higher education institutions has been steadily declining in Illinois for more than a decade. But the issue was compounded, during the state's historic two-year budget impasse during Fiscal Years '16 and '17 which left public colleges and universities with little state financial support. At Western Illinois University, that drastic cut in state appropriations resulted in significant budget cuts, employee furloughs, and layoffs.

WIU: 10 Academic Programs Up for Elimination

Courtesy WIU

Western Illinois University's Provost Office released final recommendations to the Board of Trustees on Thursday regarding which academic programs should be eliminated.

The program elimination review process has been a months-long process. The university initially announced early in the fall semesterthat 18 programs would be considered for elimination after being identified as ‘low producing’ [report.pdf] according to standards set by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Western then convened the Academic Program Elimination Review (APER) committee to review those programsin order to satisfy its contractual obligation with the faculty union.  The APER committee, comprised of faculty and a member of the library, spent months completing a thorough review and talking with faculty and staff associated with the different programs.

The APER committee submitted its report to the university’s administration last month. The APER committee did not recommend eliminating any programs but did suggest that some programs could become options under a larger degree umbrella.

In a written statement, Interim Provost Billy Clow thanked the APER committee for its work.

Here is the original list of programs under review for elimination along with the administration's final recommendations which were posted on the university’s website:

  • Art (BFA) (eliminate the Art Teacher Ed. option under the BFA major)   
  • Anthropology (retain program as is)
  • Bilingual/Bicultural Ed. (eliminate)
  • Clinical Laboratory Science (retain program as is)
  • Dietetics (eliminate)
  • Economics (retain program as is; faculty reduction)
  • Emergency Management (eliminate)
  • French Teacher Ed (eliminate)
  • Geography and Geographic Information Science (eliminate undergrad degree)
  • Geology (revise program including faculty reduction)
  • Graphic Communication (eliminate)
  • Hospitality Management (eliminate)
  • Meteorology (revise program including faculty reduction)
  • Musical Theater (retain program as is)
  • Nutrition (eliminate)
  • Physics (retain program as is; faculty reduction)
  • Public Health (eliminate undergrad degree)
  • Spanish Teacher Ed. (eliminate)

No additional information was provided regarding how or why the university ultimately decided to eliminate some programs on the list but not others.
In a statement on the university’s website, Clow said, “Should the Board [of Trustees] vote to approve the recommendations, students currently enrolled in those programs will be able to complete their degree. Furthermore, many of the programs will continue to be offered as minors and classes will be available in these content areas to meet the University's general education curriculum and provide diverse academic options.”

On March 1, Western emailed layoff notices to 132 employees, which is about 8% of the workforce. 29 of those notices went to faculty in the following departments:

  • Art - 1
  • Economics – 3
  • Educational Studies – 3
  • Foreign Languages – 1
  • Earth, Atmospheric & GIS – 6
  • Physics – 3
  • Health Sciences – 4
  • Engineering Technology -2
  • Kinesiology – 3
  • RPTA – 3

The layoff notices for the Unit A (tenure track) faculty will not take effect until May 2020. The Unit B (non-tenure track) faculty laid off will be let go at the end of this spring semester.
This spring semester is also the last for the nearly two dozen faculty who will be let go after the end of this school year. They received lay off notices last summer. As Tri States Public Radio previously reported, those layoffs affected the following departments:

  • English – 7
  • Liberal Arts and Studies – 3
  • Mathematics and Philosophy – 3
  • Political Science – 2
  • Biology – 2
  • Curriculum and Instruction – 2
  • Geography – 1
  • Psychology - 1

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the important issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.