Faculty reviews draft version of UNI program cuts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Faculty reviews draft version of UNI program cuts

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

Tuesday afternoon, University of Northern Iowa faculty members got a look at which programs may fall victim to budget cuts. Nearly 80 academic programs are under review by the UNI Provost Gloria Gibson.

Faculty members have shared a draft document of the "programs to suspend, close, or restructure." It lists the programs which could be impacted by cuts as the school tries to trim $5 million from its budget. A spokesman emphasized that this document is just a draft, and at the earliest - nothing is final about program changes until sometime Wednesday.

After meeting with faculty, Gibson will review the programs on the chopping block, and then send her recommendations on to be approved by UNI President Ben Allen. He will announce which programs will see cuts after notifying every impacted program.

Faculty members say programs with an average of ten or fewer graduates over the past five years have been targeted for review. That includes the Bachelor of Science and Master degrees in the Department of Physics.

Faculty members say programs with an average of ten or fewer graduates over the past five years have been targeted for review. That includes the Bachelor of Science and Master degrees in the Department of Physics.

"I think they just came up with a simple formula, and they didn't look at quality concerns, centrality concerns. Or, really consider the actual costs of the programs that they would be cutting," said Associate Professor of Physics John Deisz.

The department is fighting to stay off the chopping block through several avenues -- including online, on paper, and in person.

"One student is worth about 150 faculty members!" Deisz noted.

Brad Friend is one of the students who has become an accidental activist in the past week.

"We learned about this on Thursday, at least the students did," he said. "I feel like it's been.. like I've known about it for weeks now. so much has happened."

For example, Friend spent Monday in Des Moines.

"To speak to legislators -- anyone who was willing to listen to my case!" he said.

UNI grad Wes Even is back in Cedar Falls fighting for his alma matter with pen and paper.

"I've also been talking with other alumni who graduated about the same time as me. People are very passionate about trying to save the program," he said.

Being that these are physics students, they're working to make sure decision makers -- in this case, Provost Gibson and President Allen -- have access to the raw data regarding their program. They've created a three-page fact sheet, and are getting the word out on Twitter and Facebook. Their view is -- if they can get the information in the right hands, the administration will realize it's the wrong time to cut programs from science and technology fields.

"Everyday the governor, among other people, is promoting STEM -- he even has a STEM advisory board -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Everybody knows how important that is to the viability of the economy, and states' abilities to grow in particular. President Allen is the co-chair of the advisory board, and many members of the advisory board have contacted us and expressed their disbelief.," said Deisz.

What's not clear, is if all this work will make a difference when President Allen makes his final decisions.

"There have been a lot of people in our corner. As long as the facts are presented properly to those that make the decisions. I don't see how they can continue to cut the department," Friend added.

President Ben Allen sent the following message to UNI students, faculty, and staff Tuesday evening:

"The scheduled meetings with United Faculty, the Faculty Senate and the Graduate Council have been held. The Provost is considering the input given. She will formulate her recommendation and provide it to me. I will review that recommendation and make a final determination, which will become my recommendation to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

Once the list of program closures and reorganizations is finalized, we will meet with the affected faculty and staff, and communicate with affected students. The list will be posted online, after communication has been completed with those directly affected.

Relative to the academic program changes:

The University will adhere to the terms of the Master Agreement and human resource policy regarding positions and staffing.

All students enrolled in affected programs of study will be able to complete their coursework and graduate.

 Closing or merging undergraduate majors and minors, and graduate programs is not unusual for any university. UNI has closed and merged programs in the past and our sister institutions have done the same.

We will keep you updated as the process moves forward."

Click here to see the draft of Programs to Suspend, Close, or Restructure.

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