Monday, May 23, 2016

Chronicle article on regional universities

The Chronicle (access available via Morris library for SIUC folks) has a lengthy, balanced article on the plight of regional universities, centered on Western Illinois, and the decisions underway there about what programs to cut. Among the possible casualties at Western are philosophy, religious studies, geography, African-American studies, women's studies, music (BA), musical theater, bilingual education, and health sciences.

It's hard to imagine that we're not headed in the same direction: toward more unambiguous status as a "regional university" and toward program cuts. Unfortunately we can't expect any more stability as a regional university—even if we gutted research and increased teaching loads—than we have presently in our current status as a second-class research university. I'm frankly not sure of the best response for SIUC, but it's hard to imagine us flourishing if we are simply the SIU regional unit at Carbondale rather than Edwardsville. SIUE is already cleaning our clock in enrollment--are we really going to be able to attract students without the research mission? We are in a lovely part of the state--but it is also distant from all population centers, sparsely populated, and impoverished.

Perhaps the answer, inasmuch as there is any answer if the state continues to abandon us, is to cut non-instructional costs (something the otherwise thorough article ignores), and some academic programs, while retaining a research identify for (most of) the programs that remain.  A leaner, meaner (less ambitious, less well-rounded) research university--but still a research university.

1 comment:

  1. Since you've mentioned "non-instructional costs", pruning six figure administrators is a priority. Again, why not reduce Athletics particularly college football as medical studies show how dangerous it is to players? Also, do we need a President and Chancellor? FormerSIUC President Albert Somit thought not. Maybe getting administration back to 1970s levels with One Dean and Assistant may be the answer? However, I'm afraid doom is going to face SIUC, first class or second class research or not, with the emphasis going towards vocational education as those signs stating higher education promotes jobs ironically show. Again, several faculty are not into research or use tenure as a means to get into higher administration so do nothing but brownnose administrators. Rigorous academic standards should be applied to everyone especially departments that believe in Service as the only goal for a University.


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