Effective next fall, there will be one less college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and College of Fine Arts will be combined into an as-yet-unnamed college focused on the creative arts, humanities and design.
University President Dr. Michael Driscoll said that, as well as investing more in such disciplines as business, allied health fields, behavioral health, science, math, computer science, engineering and pre-engineering, is part of a plan designed to create a stronger, more student-centered “IUP NextGen.”
It won’t come without a cost: A net reduction of 43 academic programs is anticipated, as is a reduction in staff.
“For the last year or two I have been very clear with the IUP community that we have a couple choices,” Driscoll told reporters Wednesday. “We can make the well-informed strategic but very difficult decisions to determine our own future, our own destiny, or we can sit back and let someone else shape that destiny for us.”
It is a plan meant to prepare students for life and a successful career, and to prepare IUP for a future where it is more nimble in meeting workforce demands and delivering on students’ areas of interest.
It comes amid challenges that range from the ongoing pandemic to a continuing decline in high school graduates in western Pennsylvania.
“We will take the steps necessary, if a student is in one of those programs, to find a way to ‘teach out’ those programs so that those students can get an IUP degree with the great experiences that they are expecting, and rightly so,” Driscoll said.
The IUP president said there will be a reduction in faculty, but through an appropriate process involving the leadership of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties union and its contract requirements.
Previously, it was reported that IUP and six other PASSHE institutions were told that a significant number of faculty layoffs is a possibility. The president of IUP’s APSCUF local, Dr. Erika D. Frenzel, said last month that the retrenchment of 128 full-time equivalent employees is possible. There also will be a reduction of the non-faculty employees.
“We were already on a path of reducing our workforce,” Driscoll said, citing for instance the 150 faculty jobs lost through attrition since 2014.
According to an IUP news release, the foundation of plans for IUP NextGen include:
• Academic quality at all levels
• Making every student a priority
• Strengthening IUP’s research, scholarship and creative activity through masters and doctoral programs, including seizing IUP’s doctoral research mission
• Maintaining a commitment to providing a well-rounded education through a strong general education core curriculum
• Providing affordable, accessible and efficient programs with technological delivery and fast completion options
• Offering experiential education, “more than a degree” through internships, service learning, mentored work experiences, leadership and teamwork skills, research opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and access to international education.
Driscoll does not have a timetable for what’s to come in the months ahead, but said, “There are lots of things that need to be done.”
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences now includes the departments of anthropology, economics, English, foreign languages, geography and regional planning, history, journalism and public relations, philosophy, political science, religious studies, and sociology.
The College of Fine Arts includes the departments of art and design; music; and theater, dance and performance and programs including the Lively Arts, Arts Path, University Museum and Kipp Gallery.
Ultimately, Driscoll said, Dr. Dan Greenstein, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has the final say on eliminating programs.