WIU’s new academic realignment plan sparks controversy

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Faculty and students at Western Illinois University said cuts at the university are having an impact on education. They blame it on the new academic alignment the university announced in July.

“Morale has never been worse. I’ve never seen faculty so depressed,” said Marjorie Allison, English Department Professor.

Controversy at WIU over academic re-alignment–an effort to address low enrollment, while dealing with budget cuts.

The plan includes taking individual departments and merging them, something professors within the English Department said is a bad idea.

“I don’t understand how we would benefit if the College of Arts and Sciences doesn’t have departments like we do right now if and if I’m suddenly in a school with Historians and Political Scientists,” Professor of Literature in the English Department Marjorie said.

Allison said this will take away from giving her students a quality education, and result in more layoffs.

“Historically the target has been, one professor for 14 students,” Allison said. “They want to raise that ratio to one professor to 17 or 18 students.”

But, officials with the university disagree, as they said people are confusing the issues.

“The realignment is not about eliminating positions,” Interim Provost for Academic Vice President Kathleen Neumann said. “The realignment is making strategic changes in our administrative structure, so I want to make sure everybody is aware that those are two separate issues, they are not linked.”

Still, student Janay Conley worries that it will become more difficult to get the help students may need.

“Having one-on-one time and a lot of professors and stuff, that would help people become better writers because they do have the one-on-one time if they do need to improve on their ideas or punctuation, that they do have that one-on-one time with teachers,” Conley said.

Officials with the university said they plan to meet with every department to discuss options. They will then release a modified version of the academic realignment plan.

Officials with WIU said as of right now, they are not making any additional budget cuts. The final academic realignment plan will go into effect on July 1.

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Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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