Frequently Asked Questions
Last Updated: March 12, 2021
- What is driving these changes at this time?
- The college has been operating at a financial deficit for several years. To remain a viable institution serving students for generations to come, UE needs to make some changes. UE has taken smaller steps over the past several years to deal with substantial declines in revenue, but it was clear that more significant changes were needed to create a solid financial foundation enabling us to invest in our people and programs at the appropriate levels.
- What are the main components of the final institutional realignment plan?
- UE is making changes in three areas: academics, athletics and administration. It’s important to know that ALL current students will be able to complete their course of study at UE.
- Why is the University making these changes now?
Colleges across the nation are struggling with declining enrollment and the changing needs of students and their families. At UE, enrollment is down more than 20 percent in the last decade. Demographic forecasts suggest the college-going population is expected to decrease by 15 percent between 2025 and 2029 with the most significant impact in the Midwest and the Northeast. You can read about changes occurring at other schools at these websites:
- Are the changes at the University related to COVID-19?
- These structural issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic, but they existed prior to the outbreak. UE needs to address these issues now to prevent the operating deficit from growing further.
- When did the Board of Trustees approve the institutional realignment plan?
- On March 12, 2021 the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the institutional realignment plan. The full press release is available online.
In January, UE offered a Voluntary Separation Plan for certain tenured faculty - 19 faculty members have elected that plan. They will receive a severance payment equal to a full-year salary and a $10,000 healthcare contribution. Those faculty members will teach through the end of this school year.
Three majors – Philosophy, Religion and Art History - will no longer be offered for incoming students. Current students in those majors will be able to complete their course of studies at UE.
Computer Science will be retained as a major, but UE will pause admissions to Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Software Engineering for one year as we evaluate potential ways to redesign these majors. Six faculty from Electrical Engineering and Computer Science elected the Voluntary Separation option. We plan to hire qualified faculty to ensure that current students graduate from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited program.
Twelve majors will be retained.
- All five Music majors will be retained, as has been previously announced.
- Ethics and Social Change, Cognitive Science, History, Physics, Political Science and Spanish will continue to be offered as majors.
- How did the University develop the academic realignment plan?
- In developing this academic plan last summer and fall, UE was guided by the following four criteria: 1) the level of support provided to other UE programs, majors and areas of growth (excluding general education); 2) the level of contribution to the University’s enrollment pipeline; 3) current enrollment and enrollment trends within departments and majors; and 4) financial analysis of each department and major. UE then worked with faculty members and other stakeholders to determine a final institutional plan that includes academics.
- How were UE faculty and staff consulted with during the process?
- When the draft academic realignment plan was announced in December, faculty had more than 60 days to review the proposal, provide feedback, and suggest alternative proposals. In all, more than 20 valuable, creative proposals were suggested by faculty, and 12 proposals were ultimately incorporated into the final plan in whole or in part.
- Will the program eliminations go to the Curriculum Committee?
- Yes, the three majors to be eliminated (Art History, Philosophy, and Religion) will go to the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Senate for their recommendation to the president prior to the board formally considering their elimination.
- Is UE changing its liberal arts legacy?
- Not at all. Liberal arts have always been the backbone of UE. That will not change with this realignment. The University will continue to offer a broad-based curriculum taught by more than 70 faculty members in Arts and Sciences including many associated with the liberal arts including history and political science. UE will continue to offer 75+ majors, and more than 40 of these majors will be in the Arts and Sciences.
- Will the student-to-faculty ratio change?
- With the decline in enrollment, our student -to- faculty ratio has fallen well below our peers at 9.5 -to- 1. After this proposed realignment, our student-to-faculty ratio will remain in line with comparable universities at 11-to-1.
- Will this affect current students?
- All current students will be able to complete their course of study and graduate in their current majors.
- Why are there fewer reductions in the final institutional realignment plan compared to the draft academic realignment plan?
- UE Administrators have had productive discussions in the past few months with faculty and community members that have allowed for significant changes to the draft plan. The Voluntary Separation plan has always been an important component of the academic realignment. With 19 faculty members opting for that plan, UE will be able to meet its financial goals and continue with nearly all of the current academic offerings.
- Won’t the University be hurt by the loss of 19 faculty?
- We know that it is difficult and painful to lose 19 faculty positions, just as it is painful to lose people in administration. Most of the costs in any organization tend to be salaries and benefits for employees, and UE is no exception. We created a comparatively generous voluntary separation plan, and we are grateful that the plan – along with input from numerous faculty members - has allowed us to retain most of our academic offerings.
- What are the policies and procedures that govern the ABET accreditation process?
- See the ABET Accreditation Policy and Procedure Manual.
As part of this plan, 12 administrative positions will be eliminated. All of the impacted individuals have been notified.
- What administrative cuts have been done prior to realignment?
In May of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, staff and administrators received a reduction in pay for the summer. At the same time, 120+ staff and administrators were furloughed. Pay reductions were implemented for all employees in the Fall semester. University contributions to TIAA and Emeriti VEBA Trust were suspended for all employees effective in August of 2020. The pay reductions were scaled based upon salary; the president, for example, received a pay reduction of 20 percent. The letter sent to the UE Community in April regarding administrative reductions is available on the website.
Additionally, after the realignment changes, administrative positions will have been cut 23 percent since 2010, whereas faculty positions will have been cut 16.1 percent.
Prior to institutional alignment
After institutional alignment
% Reduction Since 2010 # of Faculty (% of total) 174 (39.3%) 165 (43%) 146 (41.4%) 16.1% # of Staff / Administrators w/o athletics (% of total) 269 (60.7%) 219 (57%) 207 (58.6%) 23.0%
- Will you be sharing the names of faculty/administrative staff who are leaving?
- We are not sharing those names for privacy reasons.
UE will retain its Division I status and will not eliminate any of the school’s 17 athletic programs.
UE is eliminating over $1 million in future costs by making adjustments to its athletic scholarship programs. No current student-athletes will be affected by these changes. Adjustments to housing and meal plan policies will further reduce athletic costs by over $330,000.
These changes make UE Athletics a nearly break-even operation.
- Why aren’t you moving UE to Division II or Division III NCAA status? Wouldn’t that resolve the deficit problems?
As part of the campus-wide review, the Administration and Trustees fully evaluated the athletics department to consider changes that could cut expenses and/or grow revenue. The results of the review create approximately $1.4 million in cost reductions through changes to UE’s athletic scholarship program and updates to the room and board policy for student athletes on scholarship.
The review also concluded that UE should retain its NCAA Division I status. UE has 239 student-athletes who compete on our 17 athletic teams. In fact, one out of every six UE students are athletes. Of those, 189 receive partial scholarships and have elected to attend UE, in part, because of its DI status. Moving to DII or DII would likely result in fewer student-athletes choosing to attend UE and less tuition revenue as a result.
Division I competition also allows UE to generate revenue to help offset the costs of athletics, which would be significantly reduced or eliminated completely with a move to DII or DIII. Our DI athletics program contributes significantly to diversity on campus, and a move to DII or DIII would jeopardize this.
UE has evaluated the merits of DI, DII, and DIII athletics programs multiple times over the past two decades. Each time, the analysis pointed to DI as the most financially sound option for UE. This time, the board engaged in a thorough financial analysis of the options, and once again concluded that remaining DI is the best business decision for the University.
- Doesn’t UE lose over $12 million annually in athletics?
Over the last few months, some people have cited a $12 million cost for UE athletics. This figure is from an annual report we are required to submit to the NCAA and doesn’t account for the impact of scholarships and athletic revenues to UE’s bottom line. Approximately half of that $12 million is scholarship money – in other words, it is not a true expense; it is revenue the University does not receive because it has awarded scholarships to those student athletes. If UE were not DI, it is likely that many of those student athletes would not attend UE at all.
The full review of athletics concluded that we could make changes to our future scholarship offerings and our room and board policies to make athletics a nearly break- even department on par with the expectations of all of the programs reviewed.
- I’m a student athlete. Will I be affected by the scholarship changes?
- No. These changes will occur with the incoming class of 2021. All current student- athletes will retain their scholarships at current levels.
- Will UE still offer full-ride athletic scholarships?
- Yes. We do not plan to reduce the number of full-ride athletic scholarships. We do plan to reduce the amounts available for partial athletic scholarships in golf, swimming, and track and field.
- Will all scholarships for athletes in golf, swimming, and track and field be eliminated?
- No. Scholarships in these sports will not be eliminated, but the total budget for scholarships in each of these sports will be reduced.
- Is there a way alumni, students or donors can help?
The comprehensive blueprint outlines changes being made across the campus. As most academic areas will continue, alumni are encouraged to engage with their major departments and UE as a whole. We need your input on improvements that can be made to programs, processes, and facilities. We need your help to encourage students to pursue a degree at UE and have the same valuable experiences you did. We need your financial support to grow the breadth and depth of our programs for future generations of students.
These last few months have been difficult. We all recognize the emotional connection that our UE community has to various professors, programs, and places on campus. We may have had different paths to get to this point, but we have all taken the actions we have because we love UE and want it to be a viable, thriving institution for many years to come. Now that we have a blueprint for stability, we hope to come together to implement these changes, recruit more students to campus and restore traditions we love while creating new ones.
We ask you to translate your love for UE to action by sharing your UE experience, recruiting students from your family, friends, and business networks, and by making financial contributions as you are able to support the programs you want to thrive.
- How is the University investing for future growth?
The key to our future success is investing in the right programs that match what prospective students see as career paths of the future. Expanding current programs and starting new ones usually requires “seed funding” to hire faculty and staff before students start filling the classes. Nearly $3 million in outside philanthropic funding has already been designated to help us expand, grow and thrive – and we are talking with prospective donors every day about new opportunities.
As part of our constant review of academic offerings, there are many positive developments under way. Our new Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice Program launched in January at maximum capacity under current accreditation rules. In 2018, the inaugural class of our in-demand Physician Assistant Program started classes. Our Master of Science in Leadership is attracting students from the Southwest Indiana region and beyond, creating strong class cohorts. Faculty have helped create innovative programs such as Logistics and Supply Chain Management and Data Science, to name a few. A proposal from our Biology Department would create a new Master of Science in Genetics and Disease to be presented to Curriculum Committee. Our Theatre program continues to attract world-class talent, and the Lilly Endowment recently awarded UE $1 million to strengthen our online learning platform and academic offerings. The University will continue to offer more than 75 majors with plans to expand programming in all three of our colleges.
We are building physical structures as well, including new state-of-the-art pod-style student housing and a new Wellness and Recreation Center. The Walnut Street improvement project created an improved boulevard through campus. The February announcement transitioning our Music Department to a Music Conservatory includes $3 million in updates to Wheeler Hall supported by leadership gifts from several members of our Board of Trustees.
Our alumni, friends and donors helped us achieve the second-highest fundraising year in the 166-year history of the University in 2019, by providing nearly $30 million in philanthropic support for student scholarships, faculty chairs, undergraduate research, and infrastructure projects – all designed to transform UE for the future. UE is also the first Changemaker Campus in Indiana and one of fewer than 50 in the world, a designation that encourages students to creatively solve problems they see in our communities. Last but certainly not least, our #1-rated study abroad program at Harlaxton College is implementing plans to expand programs and looks forward to welcoming students back to the Manor this summer.