In December of 2019, Northwestern made the decision to cut 11 faculty positions and three majors.
This decision stemmed from 18 months of an Academic Program Prioritization (APP) process aimed at choosing the smart and strong decisions for the college as a whole now and in the future. The APP analyzed the quality, productivity, relevance, contribution margin and opportunity of every academic program NW was currently offering. The process was a long and rigorous process that did not cut corners.
In response, President Greg Christy cut faculty positions in art, English, history, music and theatre programs. The philosophy, literature and writing/rhetoric majors were eliminated alongside the faculty reductions.
From those three majors, only ten students were affected.
However, smaller programs like minors were also affected by the changes. For example, in cutting one English faculty member, the German minor offered at NW was thus eliminated as well.
“I knew a number of students affected by the program cuts last year,” senior Camila Wede said. “My own German minor was cut, and I have been so grateful for those in the Compass Center for Career and Calling and the Registrar’s Office who have assisted me as I work toward graduating with my minor.”
Parallel to these reductions were the additions of five full-time faculty and three staff members for NW’s Master of Science program, the hiring of one faculty member in the business department, increased degree tracks for the Master of Education program and funds toward a Center for Innovation and Leadership.
Since 2019, the Master of Education department has seen an increase in enrollment with its highest start in a term this year at 446 students. There are now seven degree tracks available with over 50 adjuncts spread throughout the country teaching asynchronously. This year, the program hired one full-time professor and one part-time instructor.
“The Graduate School and Adult Learning enrollment continue to grow, and we are fortunate to be able to keep up with the demands,” director of the Master of Education program Gary Richardson said.
The Center of Innovation and Leadership started its launch in November 2020 as a center that seeks to connect students’ ingenuity and organizational leaders with the surrounding community. There is not a set opening date as of now, but the center hopes to be up and running soon.
With all of these improved graduate, business and science-based programs, the humanity departments are feeling a decline in interest.
“From a teaching and learning standpoint, I do not believe that the cuts benefited the college as a whole,” professor and chair of theater Robert Hubbard said. “This said, numbers in the programs had dropped dramatically in recent years, largely because of wider and ill-informed cultural perceptions regarding the value of the arts and humanities.”
As can be seen in the faculty and student responses, some are still being affected by the cuts of faculty members and reduced programs.
“While I understood the need for some of these cuts,” Wede said, “I lament the loss of great programs and professors and missed opportunities for those who will come after me.”