Associate Provosts speaks to SGA about the future of Western

Marc Ramirez, edge editor

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After not meeting for three weeks, the Student Government Association met this Tuesday in the University Union Capitol Room. The meeting began with a guest appearance by Associate Provost for Budget, Planning and Personnel, Russ Morgan, who also has taught psychology at Western Illinois University for 15 years.

Morgan came on behalf of Western’s President Jack Thomas who was unable to attend the meeting due to lobbying for Higher Education in Springfield. Thomas makes a conscious effort to speak to members of the SGA and keep them informed on things happening to the University.

Morgan came and spoke about the Academic Program Elimination Review Committee, their purpose and the decisions they have made over the last three months.

“If you are not familiar with this, what it is it’s that we and Academic Affairs and the upright administration had tasked a group of faculty members with looking at a group of our majors and programs at the University that are low enrolled and have been low enrolled for sometime now,” Morgan said. “Typically, we give them a list of 18 programs that we want them to look at and they’ve spent the last few months meeting with members of those departments and programs and looking at a lot of data to make a recommendation as to what should happen with these programs.”

The 18 programs under review can either be recommended to be eliminated, reviewed and revised to combine with another major or to leave as is. It was determined that there was not a recommendation to eliminate any, but some should continue to be reviewed and about half should perhaps no longer stay as majors, but become options within a similar major.

“So what’s going to happen here in the next couple weeks is that the provost’s office is going to look at that recommendation and do some reviewing and critiquing some reviewing of our own,” Morgan said. “Then we’ll make a recommendation to the President and the Board of Trustees and they will determine if the programs should continue or be revised in one form or another.”

If it becomes the case that any major or academic program is eliminated from the institution, the program will be phased out, allowing all students currently enrolled in the program to graduate with their prospective degree.

“Even if you are a freshman right now, the major will be around until you complete your degree,” Morgan said. The committee comprises its members through a contractual agreement through the University Professionals of Illinois members consisting of one person from each of the four academic colleges plus one person who represents the university libraries. Each member volunteers for the position and it is ultimately voted on by the majority.

Morgan continued to speak about the issue that’s been presenting itself to students and the Macomb community for years: the University’s enrollment. He stated that the downward trend looks like it will stop this year and enrollment will be leveled out. He continued to say that with Governor Pritzker’s budget announcement, the University is hoping for anew appropriation to help with enrollment and the overall budget.

Although the other majors and departments aren’t facing the best of news, two new programs have been approved for the Quad Cities campus to implement. Psychology has been the number one minor for a decade now and will now be offered. Faculty senate has also expressed approval that math will be offered as a minor at the Quad Cities campus. In addition to these advances, it has also been expressed that they want to expand engineering, electrical and civil. However, this currently sits as a recommendation.

The College of Education is proposing an educational studies major which would benefit students interested in education, but don’t want a classroom/teaching aspect. This is something people are hoping will be approved by the end of the semester. In addition, the FYE is being revised, based off feedback from faculty, staff and students. Morgan explained that people aren’t happy with it’s current state so they hope to change it. In order to make the program the best it can be, people are encouraged to provide feedback on their experiences.

In heavier news, on March 1, the University will be announcing a significant amount of layoffs.

“There will be layoffs in terms of both civil service, office of support staff, administrative staff, some academic support specialists and also perhaps some faculty layoffs as well,” Morgan said. “This is something that has been on the horizon for quite some time now and the University’s income and budget can’t quite keep up with our costs. So just like any company, if you’re spending more than you are bringing in, you need to make some cuts.”

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