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 decisions?
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 data.
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 and staff?
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 interdisciplinary opportunities.
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 can.
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.