Academic Program Review - FAQ
Why look at making changes? What does this mean about the future of Illinois Wesleyan?
The objective of the review has been to enhance and foster the university’s educational
mission, through sustainable programs that meet the learning needs and interests of
today’s and tomorrow’s students. This entails some reallocation of resources, both
to strengthen existing programs and enable new offerings. We will continue to evolve
and to thrive, and cultivate in new ways our foundation of liberal arts education,
combined with and enhancing our top notch pre-professional programs.
What information was utilized to evaluate academic programs and who had input into
The academic program evaluation process began in the fall with a survey of all students,
yielding 120 pages of information. A Program Evaluation Task Force (PETF) was formed
in November 2019, drawing representatives from Illinois Wesleyan’s primary faculty
governing bodies –– Council on University Programs & Policy (CUPP) and Curriculum
Council (CC) –– plus an elected at-large faculty member.
All department and program heads were invited to submit 8-page narratives to the PETF
detailing the strengths, special contributions, and possible aspirations for their
programs. The PETF examined not only the narrative accounts provided by departments
but also data provided both by the Illinois Wesleyan Institutional Research & Planning
office and an external partner, Gray Associates, which specializes in the analysis
of academic programs. CUPP then considered the recommendations of the PETF, as did
CC. Those faculty bodies brought recommendations forward, in three specially called
meetings, for a vote of the entire faculty. The administration also submitted a response
to the PETF report to the Trustees.
When a working group of trustees and faculty members was formed, for further analysis,
the heads of programs specifically under consideration by the group had a second opportunity
to present written information about their programs — all of which was provided to
the Board of Trustees. The working group also had access both to the Gray data and
internal data. View a detailed explanation of the process.
What were the criteria for evaluating academic programs?
Academic programs were evaluated based on educational considerations with attention,
in part, to educational value and desirability for the students of today and tomorrow
–– looking at enrollment patterns (nationally and internally) and external outcomes
Who made the decisions?
After deliberations by the faculty members of PETF, consideration by CUPP and CC,
faculty votes, and administrative input, decisions were ultimately made by the 40-member
board of trustees, 90% of whom are alumni. The ultimate decision-making responsibility
for all colleges and universities in America lies with the Board of Trustees.
How will changes in academic programs and majors have an impact on students, faculty
Any curricular changes will not take place in the coming academic year, and students
currently majoring or minoring in programs slated for closure will be able to complete
their degrees in the programs. Elimination of a major or minor need not entail elimination
of that study from the curriculum. Going forward, discussion with relevant departments
will explore potential new structures and teaching modes to serve our students effectively.
These changes are intended to enable improved alignment of faculty-student ratios
across disciplines, while also fostering enhancement of Illinois Wesleyan's distinctive
Even if a program is discontinued, will Illinois Wesleyan still offer some courses
in this discipline?
Elimination of a major or minor does not entail removing opportunities for students
to explore these fields through new course offerings. It is our intention to continue
to offer a robust liberal arts curriculum.
What does it mean for a program to be recommended for transformation?
It may be different for each department and might include, for example: pedagogical
innovation, interdisciplinary outreach, and more efficient use of resources. Each
of these programs has had preliminary discussions with the Academic Affairs office
and will submit a written plan to that office, with specific goals and timelines,
before the conclusion of the fall semester.
Why did Illinois Wesleyan move forward with these procedures during a global pandemic?
This undertaking began at the start of the 2019-20 academic 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.
Is Illinois Wesleyan still committed to its liberal arts tradition?
Yes. The objective of this self-examination is to ensure that Illinois Wesleyan continues
to provide the students of today and tomorrow the best liberal arts education we possibly
How can a school with a religious heritage not have a Religion Department?
It is our intention to continue instruction in areas related to spirituality, which
we know are of such importance to our students. We also are proud of having a very
strong interfaith chaplaincy, which many students engage with.