Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 21, 2014

Iowa Wesleyan cuts 23 staff positions

By BROOKS TAYLOR | Jan 23, 2014

MT. PLEASANT (GTNS) – Iowa Wesleyan College announced Wednesday it will be closing 16 academic programs and reducing 22 faculty positions and 23 staff positions in a reorganization of academic programs, administrative departments and personnel.

IWC’s current faculty numbers 52 professors, and the school now offers 32 majors.

The bottom line is that the reorganization is a cost-cutting move.

IWC President Steven Titus said the program closures and reducing of faculty and staff, which will be effective at the end of the academic year, will save the institution $3 million annually, along with fostering growth and gaining fiscal responsibility.

Academic closures include the following: studio art, sociology, history, pre-law studies, philosophy of religion, communication and mass communication, forensic science, general studies/liberal studies and seven teacher education endorsement areas. The seven teacher education endorsement areas include art, music, history, English, biology, chemistry and math.

Iowa Wesleyan has a current enrollment of 600 full- and part-time students, said Meg Richtman, IWC vice president for development and alumni relations. Total enrollment in the 16 programs targeted for closure was 52 students, she added.

“The changes we are making at Iowa Wesleyan College will focus our academic program on areas of strength and streamline our operations to achieve growth and fiscal responsibility. The academic program restructuring is designed to be more focused in our offerings and better meet the demands of today’s students,” Titus noted.

Iowa Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to ratify the program changes and reductions.

“This is all about stabilization and moving forward,” explained Richtman. “We are not anticipating any other cuts.”

Current students impacted by the reorganization will be able to continue their education and graduate within their major. Changes in the academic program will affect only those students beginning their college education in the fall of 2014 or later, school officials said.

“We want to emphasize that all students currently enrolled in the areas facing closure will finish with a degree with that major. We have made that commitment to them,” Richtman said.

The college began reviewing its academic program approximately six months ago, Titus said, with the formation of committees to review academic programs, student enrollment patterns and graduation rates. Committee members included representatives of the academic council and faculty advisory council, Richtman noted.

Titus said employment demands and an ever-changing world were considered in the process.

“Although our curriculum and faculty in those programs are excellent, demand has changed. It is no longer appropriate to fund programs with little to no student interest,” the IWC president remarked. “It is difficult to make these tough decisions, but is necessary to move forward with our plan for the future. The pattern of growth, promise and achievement requires sound financial stewardship.”

The reorganization will allow IWC to focus its resources on academic programs, Titus said, that have high demand and student enrollment.

Some of those high demand areas, according to Titus, are business administration, nursing, elementary and early childhood education, educational foundations, human services, physical education, exercise science and wellness, visual communication and design, psychology, Christian studies, pre-medical studies, biology, criminal justice, English and music performance.

Richtman pointed out that every area of the college is being impacted by the faculty and staff cuts.

“There have been staff cuts in the various offices at the college, such as the development and student life offices. Everyone has been impacted.”

IWC, Titus said, will move ahead with additional strategic growth initiatives, including the launching of new graduate courses and collaborative partnerships with two-year community colleges (Southeastern and Indian Hills Community colleges in particular) to provide adult transfer and degree completion opportunities.

In addition, IWC also is partnering with area school districts to provide dual credit courses for high-school students. Other efforts include expansion of online education, upgrades to residence halls and more strategic and aggressive student recruitment campaigns.

“We have a responsibility to provide high-quality academic programming that our students truly want and need,” said Don Wiley, chair of the Iowa Wesleyan College Board of Trustees. “I am confident that these changes will help Wesleyan continue to build on its 171-year history and create the conditions for the college to grow and thrive in the years ahead.”

Richtman said it has been a grueling process.

“This has been not easy for our community,” she said. “It has been painful and still is. It is not something we set out to do, but is a necessity so we can grow.

“It is all about future growth,” she continued. “It has been needed for several years and this is the first time the cuts have affected academic areas. We have a lot more work to do to ensure we are moving forward. However, I feel confident that we are stable and moving forward.”

 

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