BLOOMINGTON — Illinois Wesleyan University is eliminating four programs but the board is continuing to review other recommendations from a program evaluation task force, including the future of the School of Music and School of Art.
The programs to be eliminated are American culture studies; design, technology and entrepreneurship; Greek and Roman studies; and international business.
All students currently in those programs will be able to complete them, but one staff member will be lost because of the elimination, President Georgia Nugent said Thursday.
Thirty students are majoring in DTE, a relatively new program. Nugent said they are likely to shift to a new major in entrepreneurship, said Nugent.
One student is majoring in American Culture studies while three are in Greek and Roman studies and none is in international business.
“The whole object of the process is to try to ensure we offer what students want and need,” said Nugent.
Board Chairman Tim Szerlong said IWU remains committed to providing “a rich, diverse program” on a “liberal arts platform.”
Board members met the past several days online, discussing the task force recommendations and other matters, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After a robust discussion of the recommendation to close and proposal to transform the School of Music, the board determined the complexity of the issue required further data analysis,” according to an email sent to the campus late Thursday afternoon.
Szerlong will lead an eight-member working group with trustees, faculty and administrators to take “a deeper dive to make sure we captured the right data … so we can make the best possible decision,” he said. Further action will be taken at a special meeting of the board July 16.
The task force, which analyzed financial and other data, made several other recommendations, including creation of a School of Business. Szerlong said action on those recommendations might not be completed in July.
“We’re going to get this right … moving appropriately and thoughtfully,” said Szerlong.
The task force recommendation to “reimagine” the School of Music as a department prompted an outcry from alumni and donors.
The number of majors has dropped from 150 to 200 at its peak to 25 to 50 music education majors and about 20 other majors in recent years.
“If you only look at the majors in the program, you don’t get the full picture,” said Nugent.
Many students who are not music majors participate in chorus, band or an ensemble, she said, and the board wanted to take “a little more time to get a fuller picture.”
An article Thursday in Inside Higher Ed noted that many private colleges and universities are struggling and could close.
IWU has experienced some declines in enrollment and made about $1 million in budget cuts for this fiscal year, but Szerlong said, “We are in a good financial position. We’re fortunate to have a strong endowment.”
Nugent said applications are “substantially above what we’ve seen in the last couple of classes.” The deadline for prospective students to make enrollment deposits is July 1.
Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota
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