Iowa Wesleyan College alumnus 'blindsided' by severe program cuts

Petition started to save music and secondary education program

Published: January 24 2014 | 3:29 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:37 am in

Some alumni, faculty and students, primarily from the music program at Iowa Wesleyan College, met on Friday morning to discuss how to save academic programs set for closure.

They plan to reach out to college president Steve Titus to see if there's anything they can do to alter a major restructuring that is supposed to close half of the academic programs.

"Our overall sentiment is we are going to do everything we can to save what we can," said Brian Francis, a 2004 graduate of the private liberal arts college in Mount Pleasant.

A petition started to save music and secondary education program has garnered about 200 signatures.

Titus was not immediately available for comment on Friday. Titus said earlier this week that enrollment has been dipping for five consecutive years and the school is struggling financially due to low enrollment. The school has about 600 full and part-time students.

Francis said alumni in particular are upset by the Board of Trustees unanimous vote on Monday to close 16 of 32 academic programs because they were never told the problems were so severe. The plans also include laying off 22 of 52 faculty and 23 staff members.

"We were blindsided," Francis said. "This came on all of a sudden and we weren't reached out to... You have alumni for a reason. Use us."

Layoffs and program closures will occur within the next year, and students currently enrolled will be able to complete their programs.

Joel Brown, a professor emeritus who worked in the music program from 1972 to 2012, met with the group of faculty, staff and students on Friday at Old Main, where the music program is housed.

He also was involved in a resolution faculty members presented before the Board of Trustees vote asking them to hold off.

Brown said the purpose of the resolution was to show that faculty are aware of the financial struggles and are willing to work with administration to fix it.

"We wanted to know if there could be a pause before the final meeting with the Board of Trustees," Brown said. "But, I understand from the various meetings this week that action needed to be taken quickly."

Brown said he will not second guess the decisions by the administration, but there's some hope that adjustments can be made to the plan. He said he wants people recognize the value of Iowa Wesleyan in the community and the value of the students that have come from the school.

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