Petitioning Bernd Buldt

Save Philosophy at IPFW

Please, consider helping us, our students, and our region by signing (and sharing) this petition.

Earlier this week Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) announced its intention to terminate—along with many others majors and degree options—the Department of Philosophy, effective January 1, 2017. Although it was framed as a recommendation, admission to our program was suspended immediately. Central administration states, quote, "These are historically small programs that in our current financial situation we can't afford to sustain” (VCAA, October 20, 2016).

The stated reason is disingenuous. The decision is portrayed as a consequence of an internal strategic alignment process (USAP). The USAP report for our department confirms, however, that we are 100% aligned with our university’s strategic goals and notes that we are, quote, “a lean department with high annual credit hour production that generates a high amount of gross tuition $ for the university.” Indeed, according to public data used by USAP we are the second most efficient department on campus, netting on average about $2 million dollars per year in revenue above cost. Who, in their sane mind, would twist this into an “unsustainability” argument?

They lied to us. IPFW’s Chancellor, Vicky Carwein, wrote in a letter to the entire campus community July 6, 2016, quote, “Implementation of any restructuring plan will be a multi-step, multi-year process. Let me restate that no tenured or tenure track faculty will be eliminated. In addition, all relevant and applicable IPFW senate and university policies and procedures will be followed.” The “multi-step, multi-year process” that will follow “all applicable policies and procedures” (which takes time) has now been shrunk into two months (the window for negotiations closes November 15, and all decision will be final by December 1).

The process is unconscionable. The “restructuring” will result in support staff losing their positions as early as January 1; non-tenured full-time colleagues will start losing their jobs May 2018, while Central Administration refuses to confirm the guarantee they gave earlier to our colleagues on tenure-track lines. We ruin peoples’ life who showed great loyalty for years or decades right before Christmas because we run an alleged budget shortfall of $2–3 million. But Central Administration continues to pour around $7–8 million into athletics (compared to $41 million for academics out of a total budget of $110 million; guarded estimates). How unethical is this?

An entire region will be disenfranchised. IPFW is the only public comprehensive university for the entire region of northeast Indiana and adjacent areas. Our mission is to provide regional access to affordable Purdue U and Indiana U degrees, and according to the official USAP response, quote, "it can easily and appropriately [be] argued that Philosophy sits among those academic programs that most fully define an institution as a University." Educational opportunities will be taken away from everyone in the region who pays their taxes but cannot afford higher tuition or cannot move (say, a single mom who depends on her local support network). Similar to what is happening across the nation, a good liberal arts education, formerly considered a public good, is turned into a commodity that only those, who can afford private college, will be able to purchase.

We have been making a good faith effort for too long. Now, we are just appalled. Please, consider helping us, our students, and our region by signing (and sharing) this petition. Thank you!

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  • Bernd Buldt

    Bernd Buldt started this petition with a single signature, and now has 928 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.