Philosophy at Eastern Illinois Threatened

A committee responsible for assessing how Eastern Illinois University (EIU) should best handle severe cuts to state funding and declining enrollments has recommended, among other things, that the school stop granting bachelor’s degrees in philosophy. The committee, known as “Workgroup No. 7,” was apparently unmoved by previous appeals from members of EIU’s Department of Philosophy.

Department chair Jonelle DePetro, in an email, writes:

As of today, what we know is that WorkGroup7’s final recommendation for Philosophy at EIU is “deletion or outsourcing (consolidation.)”  We do not know, at this point, what recommendations the administration will choose to implement. The President has said that “If the administration considers the deletion of an academic program, the president will meet with the department prior to any action.” We have not been asked to meet; but there is a January 20th deadline contractually (EIU is a unionized campus) for the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee to receive information on each program being considered by the Provost for elimination or reorganization, if it would result in the layoff of an employee. The Program Elimination/Reorganization Committee, then, must make its recommendations to the Provost by March 15th

So, for now we are waiting to hear the administration’s decision. 

WorkGroup7 is part of a Vitalization Project consisting of 9 WorkGroups charged with various tasks which will hopefully, in spite of yet another year with no state budget and declining enrollments, “revitalize” EIU and lead the university toward positive future opportunities. 

Philosophy at EIU is a small but very marketable program. We currently have 10 majors, and we are also home to a Philosophy Minor and a Religious Studies Minor. Including Religious Studies, we participate in 9 interdisciplinary minors: Asian Studies, Anthropology, Women’s Studies, Neuroscience, Pre-Law, Criminology, Medieval Studies and we have courses that either required or elective for all majors in the School of Business. Our majors are extraordinarily successful: Of the 6 FY2013 graduates in Philosophy, four just passed the bar in their respective states and two completed Masters degrees. 

One other important fact about Philosophy at EIU: we are making a small profit for the university. We are in the black; all the more reason we find the WG7 recommendation so surprising and disappointing.

I hope that the American Philosophical Association (APA) is reaching out to the relevant parties at EIU. Readers so inclined can contact EIU Provost Blair Lord at [email protected] and EIU President David Glassman at [email protected].

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