PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Difficult cuts are necessary to position Bradley University for the coming years, said its president on Monday.
Stephen Standifird made the media rounds on Monday, and hit the talking points that he believes the cuts are being in line with what students today are doing.
“For the universities that are able to do that, they will be successful, and for those that aren’t willing to make those adjustments, they won’t be, so that’s why I remain confident in what we’re doing because we’re making the type of changes we need to make to ensure the long term success of the university,” he said during a 30-minute interview with WMBD-TV.
On Nov. 6, Bradley released a letter that the university is considering cutting up to 17 programs and 68 faculty jobs, which are based upon reviews by the provost’s office, deans and members of a Faculty Senate review committee.
Sarah Wilhoit, a visiting professor of humanities at Bradley, echoed what the faculty committee said — that they feel the process is being pushed through too quickly.
“We have yet to be presented with any clear evidence of why this is a financial emergency, so I think one of the things that faculty takes issue with is this has been an incredibly rushed process,” she said.
Standifird countered that the information was already known through data collection by the school. Therefore, there wasn’t a need to delay and to do further research.
Among the programs on the chopping block are public health education, math, physics and ceramics.
Standifird said the cuts will affect only 3.5% of the student body which is about 3,800 undergraduate students and about 1,300 graduate students.
“I think the largest program that we’re looking at to discontinue has a total of 22 students. Our largest programs, for example, will have over 500 students,” the president said. “So, a big part of it is really trying to understand where the demand is at and what students are looking for in their education, and that’s a big part of the process.”
Students will be allowed to complete their majors but no new students will be admitted into those fields that are being eliminated.
He also said the school was looking into beefing up other aspects of its academic program such as online learning and new career fields like data analysis.
“We’re also making decisions to add programs, and a lot of that is designed around understanding the type of things that are going to allow our students to be successful in today’s environment, and that’s a big part of the process as well,” he said.
He responded to criticism by faculty members that the cuts were solely focused on academics rather than other areas like athletics by saying Bradley views the cuts as in the right places. He also noted the athletics program gives the school high visibility and puts it on the map for many students.
“We get a lot of exposure to the university due to our athletics program, and to the extent that it’s a well-run program, it’s great exposure to get and ours is a really well-run program which is why I am such an advocate in our continued investment in athletics,” he said.
However, Wilhoit disagreed.
“While I think athletics are a critical part of our institution, we take a huge loss in the millions of dollars every year on athletics, and I think that at least merits a conversation, which the administration has been unwilling to have,” she said.
Wilhoit is organizing a protest/walkout at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Founders Circle. She invites faculty and students to join her in speaking out against the budget cuts.
A final decision on the cuts is expected before the end of the fall semester.