UE Administration Gives in to Faculty Demand

Jan 28, 2021

Credit Steve Burger / File

University of Evansville administrators won’t say what caused them to dramatically change the direction of the proposed academic realignment at the school. 

In his earlier statements, UE President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz made it clear- the proposed academic realignment is an administrative matter based on financial considerations and does not need to go through the normal process for academic changes at UE.

That all changed this week. In an email to the faculty senate, Pietruszkiewicz wrote that any proposals for deletions of degrees or majors would be submitted to the schools’s curriculum committee for approval.

Daniel Byrne is an officer with the UE chapter of the American Association of University Professors, which spearheaded a “Save UE” campaign that has been picked up by students and alumni. A protest was held at the school last Sunday.

Byrne said, “Yeah, I think the sustained efforts by the faculty, the alumni, the students and the community- all those things helped.”

President Pietruszkiewicz won’t acknowledge that there is a change in their plan. In reply to an email question asking why he decided to change their process for the academic realignment, he wrote, “The process and submission to the curriculum committee noted in this communication is not a new or changed process; it follows established and existing procedures and identifies the next step in the process.”

We sent a follow up question by email Thursday evening, again asking for clarification on what prompted President Pietruszkiewicz to change his mind on the realignment process, but have not received a reply.

Update, 8am CST Friday: WNIN was contacted by President Pietruszkiewicz to arrange an interview. We will update this story when that occurs.

Here is the entire email response sent to WNIN Thursday from UE President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz:

“President Pietruszkiewicz sent an updated communication regarding the draft academic realignment plan. The process and submission to the curriculum committee noted in this communication is not a new or changed process; it follows established and existing procedures and identifies the next step in the process.  We hope that this announcement provides a positive formal framework for a collaborative outcome.” 

Here is part of an email message obtained by WNIN that was sent by President Pietruszkiewicz to the faculty senate chair on New Year's Day:

"The Faculty Handbook provides that “[t]he responsibility of the faculty is in educational policy rather than administrative decisions.” The proposed academic alignment plan is not an educational policy decision, but an administrative decision motivated by financial considerations of the University and based on the program evaluation criteria. The process described in the Faculty Resolution was designed for ordinary operations and provides for the Curriculum Committee’s (and Faculty Senate’s) review of routine proposals for changes. It does not apply to the current proposed academic alignment plan. Nevertheless, Dr. Austin and I sought and continue to seek input, comments, recommendations, and proposals regarding the draft academic alignment plan from all faculty members that includes but is not limited to the Faculty Senate and/or the Curriculum Committee."