Since Wittenberg’s announcement last year of several departmental cuts students have heard little additional information about the university’s next step. In the wake of financial restructuring, many programs are now compensating for the new budgets.
Wittenberg’s financial challenges are no secret. The decisions made last year have prompted many departments to make changes to their curriculum in order to compensate for the cuts. The philosophy and religion departments, for example, experienced some restructuring due to the loss of a couple positions. Without the guarantee of new professors, certain classes will not be taught.
“Obviously, they can’t continue to deliver the same curriculum if they don’t have the same number of people or if they can’t count on being able to hire new people,” said Scot Hinson, chair of the Educational Policies Committee. “It’s unfortunate. You just can’t present as much in the department in terms of its diversity.”
When a department loses a position, professors are sometimes forced to switch their emphasis so that the department can continue to offer certain classes. At the same time, certain courses may not continue to be offered if the professor is not at Wittenberg to teach them. Hinson, also a professor in the English department, mentioned that the English program’s next hire would have been a world Anglophone expert, but that with budget issues, this is not a possibility.
In fact the English major is just one of many undergoing changes. According to Hinson, the new upper level course, which include some two credit and “Words in Work” classes, are designed to give students more flexibility.
“I think that the faculty’s being creative and rising to the challenge with what they have,” said Hinson. “It’s not like we don’t have a great curriculum.”
Still, there are students that worry about the fate of many programs on campus. Several professors in some of the programs most in danger of cuts are close to retiring and this faculty will not be replaced when they do. While the classes they teach will still be offered during their time at Wittenberg, the possibility is less certain after these teachers’ retirement.
When asked if she still feels she is receiving a good education, freshman Grace Bartley said, “So far yes. But I’m just a freshman and am mostly in gen-eds right now. It makes me nervous for when I get into my major.”
“I feel like I pay a lot of money to go here and things that I came here for are getting cut,” said sophomore Ryann Corbett.
Despite students’ apprehension, Wittenberg is still able to provide new opportunities to students. Wittenberg still ranks among the top 20 in Princeton’s ranking of “Most Accessible Professors” and has more Ohio professors of the year than any other institution in the state. Recently, the faculty approved a new archeology minor by grouping classes from multiple disciplines. The use of already existing classes avoided the requirement for addition funds to create this new minor, a testament to the resourcefulness of Wittenberg professors.
“I think last year, it was as good as it could possibly be,” said Hinson. “That’s not saying it was good, but it was good as it could possibly be. But still, awful. It’s a no win situation.”