Academics

Program Evaluation Task Force

To Illinois Wesleyan Alumni

From President Nugent

Program Evaluation at IWU: Process and Goals

Earlier this week, we distributed to the Illinois Wesleyan community information about the recommendations of the Program Evaluation Task Force (PETF), a faculty group which has worked during this academic year to evaluate all academic programs. We chose to send this information to our alumni body for two reasons. 1) A strong commitment to transparency and 2) A deep appreciation for how much our alumni care for IWU. While we recognized that some of the task force’s recommendations would be controversial, we wanted you, as invested members of our community, to hear these ideas directly from us before the next steps in the decision-making process go forward.

Thank you for taking the time to write a response. Your passion for the education you experienced at Illinois Wesleyan is very clear, and I sincerely thank you for your continued interest in our future and our character as an institution.

There are several aspects, both of the task force’s process and the substance of its report that I would like to emphasize. First and foremost, it is critical to re-affirm in the strongest terms the university’s continuing commitment to its distinctive mission of providing outstanding liberal arts education, with select opportunities for pre-professional study. In particular, I want to make clear that there is NO intention to eliminate the arts from Illinois Wesleyan’s curriculum. If some of the language in the task force’s report has caused confusion on this matter, that is unfortunate. The overall import of the report is clear: the recommendations call for attention to strengthening these programs, to enable them to flourish in the future.

Let me also reiterate some specifics of this year-long evaluation process:

  1. The process was carried out and the report written entirely by faculty, who were elected members of standing faculty committees. In selecting members for the task force, the committees strove for representation across the disciplinary areas of the university. 
  2. The report presents a series of recommendations. They are not decisions. The evaluation process includes a number of subsequent steps: review by the standing faculty committees, a vote by the full faculty, and deliberation by the board of trustees.
  3. Decisions will occur only after this process of considerable deliberation, and most of the report’s recommendations, if accepted, would require a period of time to implement.
  4. IWU will honor its commitments to all students enrolled in programs that may be affected by future decisions. All current students (and incoming students in the Class of 2024) will be able to complete their chosen programs of study. 

Why was this evaluation process undertaken?

The Trustees called for an analysis of the curriculum Illinois Wesleyan currently offers, because the landscape for higher education is changing. The expectations of students and families for higher education, 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. 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. But in this fast-changing environment we must be forward-looking and continue to thoughtfully adapt, as well as to allocate our resources effectively toward the needs of students, so that IWU remains a university of choice for students. 

A Focus on The Future

When change is contemplated in any organization – and perhaps especially in an institution so deeply cherished by many as is Illinois Wesleyan – complete consensus is unlikely. Yet change has been a necessary part of our almost 200-year history.And it will continue to be necessary for the university’s vitality. Because this evaluation process at IWU has been carried out by faculty, communicated broadly, and directed toward strengthening our fundamental mission as a liberal arts university with select professional programs – we believe that it will contribute to a stronger future for our university. 

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