Last Friday, the University Strategic Planning Committee (USPC) of the University Senate voted down Provost Walter Zakahi’s proposal to eliminate degree programs in the theater department, according to Megan Brezka, student body president and a member of the University Senate.
The other two proposals were voted on by the committee and passed. These were the elimination of all majors in the physics department and three out of the six majors in the family and consumer science department, according to Brezka. Regardless of the result, all three proposals will still be presented to the University Senate.
Zakahi, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, recommended the proposals in an email to all Bradley’s full-time faculty on Jan. 29. The proposals were created as the result of program prioritization, a long-going effort led by Zakahi, and were presented to the university’s Board of Trustees at its early February meeting.
“The Board of Trustees were supportive of the presentation, and were supportive of what I have proposed,” Zakahi said during an interview last Friday morning. “There were a few trustees who were surprised that we were not proposing deeper kinds of shifts in funding.”
Prior to the presentation of the proposals, the University Senate hosted a special informational meeting on Jan. 30 to allow faculty members to voice their opinions and ask questions about the proposals.
One of the topics discussed at the senate meeting centered on current tenure applications for the two faculty members in programs that were proposed for elimination.
Zakahi’s initial response at the senate meeting was that these two applications would be put on hold or would not be further processed. During his interview last Friday with The Scout, Zakahi said that the university has found a way to allow
“We have found a way, basically to allow both of these faculty members to go through a normal process … in working the deans, we have found what I would describe as viable, appropriate and necessary kinds of work in terms of teaching and things like that for both of these faculty members,” Zakahi said.
Zakahi also promised that both faculty members will have the opportunity to move up in rankings.
“So that even if their programs don’t exist anymore, there will be a way that they can continue to work at Bradley if that’s what they wanted, to continue to move through the ranks,” Zakahi said. “Assuming that they pass through this process, then they will become associate professors and we will certainly make it possible for them as well to become full professors if they earned that right.”
During this process, Zakahi said that he has recently received a series of memos about abandoned efforts on some program mergers proposed by the previous provost.
“In 2015, there were a series of memos that went out from the previous provost that basically indicated that you should either find a way to grow this program or you should close it,” Zakahi said.
Though he has not had the chance to study these memos in detail, Zakahi believes that these memos have only proven the points of his proposals.
“I think mostly the memos have reinforced the appropriateness of the proposals that I put forward as the recommendations … The fact that the graduate nursing and counseling programs were included, they received memos five years ago. Well if you look at what these programs have done in the intervening time period, they have dramatically increased their enrollment by the move to online and so,” Zakahi said.
Other programs mentioned in the memos include physics and theater arts.
“Such as the case of physics, the department was told that they need to make some improvements in terms of how students were doing in their courses,” Zakahi said. “In the case of theater, the proposal was for them to merge with television arts. So what I have is a memo that indicates that the college should follow through on their proposal of doing that.”
Zakahi hosted an “invite-only” forum last Thursday for questions in regards to program priorizatation. The forum was opened to full-time faculty and staff and The Scout was not able to attend. The second forum will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19 in Westlake Hall 116.
The University Senate will have its February meeting this Thursday at 3 p.m. in Marty Theatre.
An earlier version of this article stated that the second program prioritization forum will be held on Friday, Feb. 21 from noon to 2 p.m. The forum has now been moved to Wednesday, Feb. 19, from noon to 1 p.m. in Westlake Hall 116. The Scout has updated this article on Wednesday morning to reflect the change.