Alumni perplexed by Iowa Wesleyan cuts
MT. PLEASANT (GTNS) – Shocked, upset and confused.
That sums up the feelings of some Iowa Wesleyan College alumni regarding the program, faculty and staff cuts announced this week. College officials said they will be slicing academic majors in half from 32 to 16 as well as reducing the faculty roster from 52 professors to 30 and cutting 23 other staff members.
“It has come as a shock to IWC alumni that the school is in grave financial condition and the president and trustees have decided to cut programs, faculty and staff,” 2007 music education graduate Lee Wolf remarked.
Wolf, who currently teaches vocal music at Louisa-Muscatine Junior/Senior High School, said he was disappointed more input was not solicited from alumni.
“We understand that they felt this was the only path and we do not know all the details, but there was little or no attempt to enlist the assistance of alumni in this time of great need,” Wolf said. “We feel that cutting programs can only damage the school further and perhaps irreparably.”
Wolf and some other alumni have launched a page on Facebook so others can weigh in on the cuts. The page is known as “Save the arts and secondary ed. at Iowa Wesleyan.”
Meredith Frasier, a 2010 IWC communications graduate, said she was upset by the announcement. “For me, it was really upsetting that they cut the mass communications department. One reason why I chose IWC to transfer into was because of the wide range of programs and classes I would be able to experience in communications, instead of being forced to choose one particular communications track.
“I was able to take classes and a vast number of them,” Frasier continued. “I use all those classes, even those classes I didn’t think I would ever use again as a student. I use them on almost a daily basis…I think there were probably points along the way where changes could have been made that would have made these recent cuts unneeded.”
Kayleigh Specter is confused.
“I know what I have read, but there is just so much to it that it is so confusing. If you want to build up the music department [like the press release said], why get rid of two of four of the professors in the department? Why cut them?” asked the 2010 IWC history graduate.
“I know [history] is a small department, but history is important,” Specter continued. “We need that [history]. I just don’t know why anyone would do that. History was my major, obviously, and it is just so depressing to see it go.”
She questioned whether the school could remain known as a liberal-arts school. “It isn’t going to be a liberal-arts school,” Specter said. “Soon you will be hearing people say, ‘I got my degree from Iowa Wesleyan Tech,’ because that is essentially what they will be if/when they cut the arts from a liberal arts school.”
The loss of quality professors also bothered her. “Letting go of someone like DP [Wilson] doesn’t make sense. She has been there for so long,” Specter added. “Why would you let her go? The two Bishops [Mark and David]? David [Bishop] was so good, he was willing to work with you if you were having trouble. It seems like they are letting go of the professors who actually care about the students and the material they are teaching. Why would you do that?”
Specter also echoed Wolf’s remarks that the alumni were not included in the discussions and planning of the reorganization. She fears the college’s reputation will be hurt by the cuts. “You are going to have people looking at IWC saying, ‘I don’t want to go here because they don’t offer what I want anymore.’ I’ve just been angry the past few days. This is just ridiculous. I went to IWC because of the student/teacher ratio. With all of these cuts, that student/teacher ratio that was so appealing won’t exist anymore. Then why would anyone want to come here?”
Wolf said the alumni are willing and anxious to help in the reorganization of the school’s academic programming. “There is a strong desire to step up and assist in reinstating these programs as well as the faculty and staff. This should be done as soon as possible to stave off any further harm to the reputation of these programs and the college as a whole.”
He noted alumni “feel” for students currently enrolled in the impacted programs. “We have great concern for those students currently in these programs who are devastated by this decision and we are reaching out to them to help however we can. We are also reaching out to faculty to give them our support,” Wolf stated. “We are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to save the arts and our school.”
As a graduate of the school, Frasier said the news is heartbreaking and is concerned about its impact far beyond the walls of Old Main.
“I am very worried about the impact this will have, not only on the college, but also Mt. Pleasant as a community,” she said. “A lot of people are connected to that college, and those families are very dear to the community, the college and the alumni. It is hard to watch this happen and feel like it has gotten to a point where we can’t do anything to help.”