What information are these recommendations based on?
The task force worked with data from an external partner, Gray Associates, which specializes in the analysis of academic programs. They provided external data about trends in student interest in particular programs of study and employment outcomes, plus detailed information on the costs of our existing programs.
In addition, we surveyed all current students about existing academic programs, students’ perceptions of their strengths or weaknesses, and what majors not offered now might be of particular interest.
Lastly, this evaluation process carefully and thoughtfully evaluated every single program and major across campus using internal data available. With input from every Department Head, it made recommendations based on a variety of quantitative and qualitative information related to enrollment numbers in classes and the types of courses we offer across the curriculum.
What were the criteria for evaluating programs?
The task force evaluated programs with particular attention to educational value and desirability for the students of today and tomorrow – looking at enrollment patterns (nationally and internally) and external outcomes data – with a realistic view of the university’s resources and their most effective use.
How will changes in programs and majors have an impact on faculty and staff positions?
Please note: these are recommendations, not final decisions. If any programs are eventually slated to discontinue, all currently enrolled students will be able to complete their degrees, and wherever possible, affected faculty and staff will be reassigned in new ways.
Why is IWU moving forward with these procedures during a global pandemic?
The goal of the program evaluation process is to enable us to make the most of our strengths to ensure a flourishing future. The program review process was not started as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and we continue to evaluate and respond to the needs of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Our first priority is the immediate needs of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni and friends.
This undertaking began in November last year, long before the impact of COVID-19, but its goal of allocating resources effectively toward the needs of students and positioning us to compete in a challenging landscape is more important now than ever.
The expectations of students and families for higher education are changing. Global financial issues, changing demographics in our country, and the proliferation of information technologies all have major implications for the future of colleges and universities. From President Nugent's first arrival on campus, she has spoken in many gatherings about these realities – and the fact that Illinois Wesleyan is exceptionally well-positioned to meet these challenges – offering, as we do, a rigorous and valuable liberal arts education as well as opportunities for professional development. We are fortunate as a University in our engaged alumni base and our proven outcomes (did you know we're the No.1 small college in Illinois in the job placement and the earnings of our graduates?) But we must be forward-looking in order to keep pace in a rapidly changing world, and continue positioning IWU as a university of choice for students. Last summer saw the creation of a number of Strategic Planning Working Groups, charged to envision new possibilities for the university’s future success.
Will this impact the expanded makerspace / innovation center project?
The project is moving forward with even more exciting possibilities for interdisciplinary involvement.
How have alumni been involved in the program review process?
Ultimate responsibility for decision-making at the University rests with our Board of Trustees, which is heavily comprised of our most dedicated alumni, who are charged with making decisions in the best long-term interests of the university.
The program evaluation process has included a number of steps. We surveyed all current students and analyzed data based on potential future generations of Titans. The task force drew representatives from our primary faculty (including alumni faculty) governing bodies – Council on University Programs & Policy (CUPP) and Curriculum Council (CC) – plus an elected at-large faculty member. The review process will return these recommendations to the appropriate faculty governance groups and then to the faculty as a whole.
The faculty vote will be brought to the Board of Trustees. They, with the President, informed by all constituent groups, are charged with making decisions for the future health of the university.
Why look at making changes? What does this mean about the future of IWU?
Like all colleges and universities across the nation, we must position ourselves for the future in an increasingly competitive landscape. The history of our university shows that it has continually evolved, and we will continue to do so, as we look to the future and the needs of tomorrow's students. When you review the long and enduring history of Illinois Wesleyan University you will find over our past 170 years the faculty and administration have transformed and evolved programs based on new and evolving pedagogy and industry trends. We want to ensure that we are utilizing our existing resources as efficiently and creatively as possible. It’s important to understand that the program review is not merely about reducing costs – in fact there are several new programs proposed – rather it’s about long-term success for our institution and our students.
What does reimagining the School of Music as a Department mean and what would we still offer for students with an interest in studying music?
The task force noted they recognize the value of music as part of an Illinois Wesleyan education, and stressed the importance of maintaining music as part of our campus community. Their recommendations call for increased contributions from music instruction within our general liberal arts curriculum, and a continued presence of ensembles – some of which are internationally and nationally award-winning.