Newman University to Cut Philosophy Major


Newman University, a Catholic university in Wichita, Kansas, has announced that it is discontinuing its philosophy major, along with majors in several other disciplines.

The cuts are part of a “strategic effort to realign educational offerings with changing student trends, market forces and emerging industry demands,” the university said, in a candid abdication of its institutional mission.

Besides philosophy, the majors in English, finance, history, marketing, math, social work and theater will also be eliminated. Some courses in each discipline will remain part of the curriculum, and existing majors will be able to complete their requirements and graduate with a degree in their chosen subject. The university will continue to offer a “philosophy of theological studies” degree.

Ten faculty will lose their jobs as a result of the cuts. The Wichita Eagle reports that Director of University Relations Clark Schafer said that “remaining students in the programs will be ‘taught through adjunct faculty and consortium partners.'”

Philosophy at Newman University was covered here previously when it announced, four years ago, that it would “revise its philosophy and theology programs so that they ‘align strategically’ with its new School of Catholic Studies.”

 

 

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Hanna
Hanna
6 months ago

That is wrong

James Hikins
James Hikins
6 months ago

As a professor of both philosophy and rhetoric for almost half a century, and an administrator, I have witnessed many changes and trends in higher education. None are more disturbing than the de-emphasis on the humanities–and especially the attacks on philosophy and rhetoric (communication)–in favor of STEM. In light of the terrible tragedies, at home and abroad, over the past month, humanity needs not less but more reflection on philosophical issues and the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively to others. We are entering a new Dark Age, where careful thinking is replaced by a reliance on technology and the bombast of autocrats, with fewer and fewer opportunities in higher education for students to take critical thinking courses and courses that produce articulate speakers and writers. Shame on educators and administrators who have abandoned the traditional mission of education on the basis of spreadsheets and the opinions of those seduced by technology and the gamour of Silicon Valley.

Carissimus
Carissimus
Reply to  James Hikins
6 months ago

It must be noted that the philosophy major at NU had no students, mainly as a result of its emphasis on the moderns and of its being divorced from the Catholic intellectual tradition. (It’s a nominally Catholic university, after all.) The Philosophy for Theological Studies program, on the other hand, is alive and thriving.

Dr. Christopher Fox
Dr. Christopher Fox
Reply to  Carissimus
6 months ago

Howdy. For the record, the Department of Philosophy currently does in fact have one major. We’re looking forward to working together this Spring in an upper-division seminar on Modern philosophy. Our graduates have gone on to Masters and Doctoral programs at U. of Chicago and Notre Dame, as well as KU Medical School and other pursuits.

I suppose that the Department of Philosophy might be “thriving” too, if, like Philosophy for Theological Studies, our faculty lines and students’ tuition were underwritten by the Diocese of Wichita, and if the Diocese handled our marketing and publicity. But I guess that supposition on my part will ever have to remain hypothetical.

Carissimus
Carissimus
Reply to  Dr. Christopher Fox
6 months ago

Dr. Fox:

I’d like to apologize for causing offense by my flippancy. I only know about these happenings through hearsay, and I commented in ignorance of the full situation. I can imagine that there is much pain at your university right now—I am sorry if I, by my words, made that pain worse.

Dr. Christopher Fox
Dr. Christopher Fox
Reply to  Carissimus
6 months ago

Carissiumus,
I accept your apology and thank you for offering it. If I may quote Hegel, “the wounds of Spirit heal, and leave no scars.”

Ed Emmer
Ed Emmer
Reply to  Carissimus
6 months ago

Catholic institutions used to be respected for their (perhaps unexpected) openness to philosophical exploration and excellence.
At Newman, however, Spinoza will get to be excommunicated yet another time…
Now that’s caritas!

J E
J E
Reply to  Ed Emmer
6 months ago

Given the poorly conceptualized notion of the “dark ages” (a period that did not, in any meaningful sense, occur) above and your reference to Spinoza’s”excommunication,” the only thing these comments show is that several of the ostensible humanists voicing their ideas need to read a bit wider and deeper. Apparently propaedeutic historical analysis resides outside their purview.

Last edited 6 months ago by J E
Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  James Hikins
6 months ago

I think it’s strange to say this is about replacing humanities with STEM, when math is being cut as well as philosophy.

If we fall prey to the delusion that this is the evil people in the sciences attacking the humanities, then we will be missing whatever is actually going on.

Ruel
Ruel
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
6 months ago

I had friends and others argue the exact same thing unironically. That this is in fact good ‘because STEM gets jobs’ and I replied that I am afraid I am not sure you know what the ‘M’ in STEM stands for. In general, I have seen other reports of physics, geology, botany and other such programs cut en masse throughout the US. I think the discourse needs to stop being about STEM versus the humanities (a distinction I never saw as particularly helpful) and move to what are seen as essentially full commitment to market values over educational values. The Sciences and Mathematics are being as gutted as the humanities. I would say the acronym should be Biology, Engineering, and Business, BEB but even then Newman also cut Marketing and Finance so Business is not safe either. Just like you said we cannot blame this on the ‘sciences’ as genuine Science and intellectual exploration for the sake of knowledge is under threat across the board. This is about the elimination of education and knowledge as values generally.

Jason Atil
Jason Atil
6 months ago

Intellectual mediocrity in the name of theology is hardly a worthy pursuit. You can’t even have a decent STEM focus without mathematics.

Peter
Peter
6 months ago

What, if anything, justifies them in continuing to call themselves a university?

Duncan Richter
Duncan Richter
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

This question reminds me of something that often seems important but I’m embarrassed to ask about because I know so little about it. But, given its importance, here goes. Am I right that accreditation agencies (in the US) used to require evidence that universities taught critical thinking, and that philosophy departments were valued because they helped check this box by teaching informal logic? I think that’s true. And then more and more other departments, I think, started to say that they taught critical thinking. And then the accreditation people stopped asking about it. And so now philosophy departments are more vulnerable to being cut.

It makes me wonder how accreditation agencies work, and whether there is any way to persuade them that philosophy (along with certain other disciplines) is really essential to the mission of any university worthy of the name.

Brandon
Brandon
6 months ago

These kinds of cuts are often ironic, but a school eliminating its philosophy major on the basis of “market forces and emerging industry demands” while calling itself “Newman University” really does take the cake for irony.