Philosophy Threatened at University of Evansville (updated)

Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz, the president of the University of Evansville, thinks it is a good idea to make sure future students at the school cannot study philosophy there, or computer science, or history, or music, or political science, or physics, or… well, the list goes on.

Eliminating the departments that teach those courses, and/or eliminating the majors in them, is part of what Pietruszkiewicz is calling an “academic realignment plan.” The plan “is designed to eliminate underserved and unsustainable programs,” rather than, say, undertake steps to educate students about the value of them.

[University of Evansville mascot, Ace Purple]

The proposed plan, which was reportedly put together with zero faculty input, will:

  • Consolidate the four Colleges and Schools into three Colleges: (1) William L. Ridgway College of Arts & Sciences, (2) College of Education & Health Sciences, and (3) College of Business & Engineering (including the Center for the Advancement of Learning).
  • Eliminate three Departments: (1) Music; (2) Philosophy & Religion, and (3) Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, including 12 associated majors: (1) Cognitive Science, (2) Computer Engineering, (3) Computer Science, (4) Electrical Engineering, (5) Ethics and Social Change, (6) Music, (7) Music Education, (8) Music Performance, (9) Music Therapy, (10) Philosophy, (11) Religion, and (12) Software Engineering.
  • Eliminate five additional Majors: (1) Art History, (2) History, (3) Physics, (4) Political Science, and (5) Spanish.
  • Eliminate faculty positions in Art History, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Creative Writing/English, Electrical Engineering, History, Math, Music, Physics, Philosophy & Religion, Political Science, and Spanish. Faculty members whose positions are eliminated will be given 18 months advance notice. Other faculty in affected programs will be offered a voluntary separation option that includes salary for 12 months without teaching or other University responsibilities plus a one-time, $10,000 payment to assist with healthcare costs.

The plan was announced yesterday, and faculty were told they’d have approximately 30 days to review it, so that it can be finalized “at the start of 2021.” In other words, they’ve got winter break to do something about this. Did Pietruszkiewicz plan this schedule to minimize the ability to coordinate opposition, or to maximize cruelty towards faculty that voted no confidence in him in October? Only he knows, for sure. Astoundingly, Pietruszkiewicz has told faculty they need to provide an initial response this coming Tuesday, either ignoring or banking on the fact that faculty will be spending the weekend grading, as grades are due Monday.

The proposed plan does not include any cuts to the administration or to the Division I sports program that the school of 2500 students has.

Those interested in registering their opinions about the plan can email Pietruszkiewicz at [email protected] or call his office at 812-488-2152.

UPDATE: There is now a petition calling for the resignation or termination of Pietruszkiewicz.


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Max Engleman
Max Engleman
3 years ago

I’m a UE alum who was heavily involved in and impacted by two of the departments to be cut (now a grad student in philosophy at Temple) – if you’re also a UE grad who’s been bettered by these programs, please take the time to email UE’s board of trustees ([email protected]), president ([email protected]), and provost ([email protected]).

Travis Gilley
Travis Gilley
3 years ago

The office of the President at UE. The secretary is more than happy to pass along what we truly think of the recent announcement.

3 years ago

It seems that more and more philosophy programs at smaller colleges and universities are under threat. Is it helpful or good for philosophers at other institutions to send emails to those in university presidents or boards of trustees? Much like we send emails and letters to our senators or congress-persons?

If so, is there anything like a template that we could start with?

Louis F. Cooper
3 years ago

How any university with a College of Arts and Sciences can, with a straight face, forbid students from majoring in history, art history, physics, political science, and Spanish (not to mention eliminating the philosophy dept, etc.) is beyond me.