Elmira College Cuts Philosophy (Updated)

Elmira College, a small private liberal arts college in New York, has announced that it is cutting several programs, including philosophy.

The cuts are part of a an attempt to “restructure in order to adapt to the changing higher education landscape” as well as respond to budget problems made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an announcement this past Friday, the school’s administration said:

Like many small, traditional colleges, Elmira College has been significantly impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic. However even before the pandemic began, it was clear that the College needed to renew itself and restructure in order to adapt to the changing higher education landscape. COVID-19 exacerbated the situation.

This has created an imminent need for the College to make budget adjustments that demonstrate financial responsibility and allow the College to continue the tradition of providing an excellent educational experience to our students. To that end, the College will discontinue six academic programs and three athletic teams and reduce staffing by 20% in order to maintain financial stability as it restructures for a sustainable future. Affected employees and students, along with the general campus community, have been notified of these changes.

Academic programs affected include American Studies, Classical Studies, Economics, International Studies, Music, Philosophy & Religion, and Spanish & Hispanic Studies. Athletics programs affected include men’s and women’s cross country and women’s golf.

Elmira College understands the importance of preserving traditions, yet also acknowledges that the College must adjust to changing economic realities, an evolving global workplace, and student expectations about the nature and importance of higher education.

It is unclear at this point whether any philosophy faculty have lost their jobs, and whether the elimination of the philosophy program means just the discontinuation of the major or also the elimination of most or all philosophy courses.

UPDATE:  Corey McCall, associate professor of philosophy at Elmira, writes: “I will say that everything you’ve written in your post is accurate and that the full faculty had no knowledge of these cuts prior to being informed of them last Wednesday. Furthermore, at least through next year, service courses in Philosophy and Religion will be offered, though not by me.”

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Martin Shuster
4 years ago

I can comment for certain that philosophy faculty have lost their jobs.

My understanding is also that Elmira actually declared financial exigency months ago (without actually “declaring” it, i.e., it was secret or known only to a few), and then fired professors with tenure just now. This strikes me as a particularly morally reprehensible move (even if possibly legal) move.

4 years ago

This is only the beginning. Build some off-ramps, people.

Roland Braman
Roland Braman
3 years ago

New York just has too many private colleges that have priced themselves out of reason. Elmira College is not better than an average SUNY.

I live in Ithaca. Within an hour we have Wells College (500 students), Elmira College (1,200 students), Keuka College (1,600 students) and Cazenovia College (1,400 students). These are simply not sustainable sizes unless your college has a huge endowment.

When people say half the colleges in America will close I think that’s a conservative estimate.

Ian Glastonbury
Ian Glastonbury
Reply to  Roland Braman
2 years ago

Elmira College has not had 1,200 students enrolled in almost a decade. The college’s own PR puts enrollment in the 800s, which means it’s closer to 700.