In December of 2020, the University of Evansville issued a Draft of Academic Alignment. According to the letter, the President’s Council proposed this realignment plan to the UE faculty for review. During this time many programs, majors, and faculty were on the chopping block.           


The document titled “Academic Alignment Letter” (provided by President Pietruszkiewicz) claims that this realignment of programs was to respond to the change in demographics in higher education. To achieve this goal, the university looked at four pieces of criteria. 

  • How much support an academic program or major is receiving along with any growth to be seen.
  • Contribution to UE’s enrollment pipeline.
  • The current levels of enrollment within the departments/majors.
  • The financial analysis of the departments/majors.

After looking at these criteria the draft then explains the realignment plan. Four college/schools will be merged into three: William L. Ridgeway College of Arts & Sciences, College of Education & Health Sciences, and the College of Business & Engineering.



What was concerning for many was the next few steps in the draft. The elimination of three departments: Music, Religion & Philosophy and Electrical Engineering & Computer Science along with 12 majors that are associated. Five additional majors would also be eliminated: Art History, History, Political Science, Physics, and Spanish. Not only were these to be eliminated but many of the faculty positions would be let go, with a voluntary separation option offered. The document then proceeds to explain that the goal of the plan is to remove programs that are not performing as well as the rest and to help the university financially in preparation for a new demographic of students and increase enrollment.


When I first attended UE as a freshman, I heard about the possibility of elimination of certain programs before the draft was even released. It was my first introduction to UE which was already shadowed by the height of the pandemic. It has been almost four years since this letter was sent to faculty, staff, and students. Almost four years since the final draft was finished in early 2021. As a senior now, I decided to take a deep dive into what Realignment truly was, and what occurred during this time. I met with Dr. Pat Thomas, an Associate Professor of Archaeology here at the university, learning about how the faculty felt during this time, and what the effects are now throughout campus, positive or negative.


I was not finished there though, and I decided to pursue another side. I asked to speak with President Pietruszkiewicz, who proposed the plan. I wanted to know his and his teams side.  I wanted to know what Realignment was, as well as the positive/negative outcomes that they see that came from this decision almost four years later.


This article is not the easiest to write, so I will display all the facts/information that I have been provided, hoping that these help those understand what happened those years ago, and can see how Realignment has affected our campus.


I first googled, which any reporter does in hopes to learn the basic information. I knew that to approach this topic I needed to be open and clear-headed about the situation. I only really knew that professors I barely got to meet were leaving and certain programs of importance were disappearing when I first learned about the situation in 2020. When researching the words “University of Evansville” and “Realignment” I found a multitude of articles, all with various yet similar titles.

            “Dissecting the Tactics of the University of Evansville’s Realignment”

            “Viewpoint: Damage to UE is Already Becoming Evident”

            “University of Evansville Outlines New Realignment Plan”

These titles are clear in what the content is made up of. Many individuals in the Evansville area as well as alumni had strong opinions about this proposed plan. To continue, we must go back. In August of 2020, President Pietruszkiewicz announced that him and his team was to evaluate certain programs on campus to see if they are underserving or showing little growth. The draft was clear that faculty was to be involved in this process when it was announced in December. According to the article by the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) the involvement of faculty before the draft was released did not occur. When interviewing Dr. Thomas, I asked if the faculty was aware of this proposed realignment of the university in which he responded,


“Yes, well, he (President Pietruszkiewicz) dropped strong hints and then in the fall faculty conference of 2020, he said that the university was doing some kind of budgetary study, and he then promised to share the progress of that which he did not do.”


Dr. Thomas proceeds to explain that the faculty who were possibly being let go had no warning about this. He states,


“The actual announcements came out the end of the semester when final exams were over and after the student’s left campus, and rather than look the people in the face, whom he was planning to let go, he did it via Zoom.  They had absolutely no prior warning.”


When faculty found out about the possibility of certain programs being cut, they partnered with AAUP and created Save UE, a campaign going directly against the proposed plan of Realignment.

When interviewing President Pietruszkiewicz, I asked if he expected the response from faculty and students, like Save UE. President Pietruszkiewicz stated,

“I had a pretty good understanding that this was pretty impactful to people, and we weren’t the first university to propose something like this and there’s been even more after ours.”

President Pietruszkiewicz continued stating that the reactions at these universities have been similar to ours, continuing,


“The reaction was very much in line with the difficulties and the uncertainty it was creating with our faculty.”


When the draft was proposed Save UE only amped up. Since, the letter was proposed there were meetings where the programs, faculty, and students could speak out against the proposed cuts and many banded together in protest, hoping to save some beloved programs.


The faculty that was affected by the plan was also offered a voluntary separation option which included a salary of 12 months without teaching and a one-time $10,000 payment to help with healthcare costs. There was a possibility of 39 faculty being let go when the draft was initially stated. The final and official account during the realignment year was 22. 19 of the faculty members chose to partake in the voluntary separation option, and 3 of them chose to retire early. These faculty, however, did not take this plan happily. These were well-rounded and very influential individuals who helped shaped this campus and were leaving in hopes to save their programs or other’s jobs/programs.


In my interview with President Pietruszkiewicz, I asked if the expectations of Realignment are being met. President Pietruszkiewicz proceeded to say that in a way yes, the university has been growing but that during this time it was a difficult process to do. In his answer to this question, President Pietruszkiewicz stated,


“The hardest part is recognizing that there are people involved in the process and I also understand that my responsibility as a president, but that doesn’t separate from the fact that it was really hard.”


He proceeds to explain that the university is not in a different place than many other colleges and universities stating,


“We just did it a little bit earlier in the process before the demographics changed and now if you pick up the newspaper, you’re seeing what’s happening in private institutions and in public flagship institutions and the changes that they’re having to make.”

President Pietruszkiewicz also states that,


“The difference with ours is that we had a group of faculty members who were willing to propose alternatives between that period between the draft plan and the final plan, in which we ultimately did not eliminate any positions. That was part of the voluntary separation incentive program, and because of a number of faculty numbers utilized that program, in which they received a year salary plus $10,000 worth of health care benefits we didn’t have to go through with the draft realignment plan as it was originally proposed”.


According to President Pietruszkiewicz, there was no eliminations of positions since these faculty took the voluntary separation option; however, this opinion is felt differently from others. He also proceeded to explain that many other universities are now following this route, trying to keep up with the changing demographics and student interest. There are many universities struggling with enrollment and keeping up with the changes in the higher academic world. Especially after COVID-19 and its affects, however, this was done during the pandemic, were these changes in demographics seen then? The graph below (provided by Dr. Pat Thomas from IPEDS and is all public information) shows the change in undergraduate enrollment from the year 2018-2022, comparing the University of Evansville to other universities UE compares itself to. Which UE is second from the bottom.

The Final Academic Plan was released early in 2021, and it did look different. 12 of faculty proposals were accepted, some being Ethics & Social change, History, Greek (which was part of the Religion proposal), and more. 12 majors were decided to be retained including, Music, Computer Science, History, and more. However, there were three major eliminations, Art History, Philosophy, and Religion (kept as a minor).


Business was consolidated with Engineering making the College of Business and Engineering, like proposed before. 12 administrative/staff positions were eliminated. For the athletic side of the university the only changes were that all athletes with a scholarship including room and board must live on campus, as well as reduced scholarships for future student athletes in golf, swimming, and track & field.

At this point I understood what Realignment was. My next question for both interviewees was what effects are seen on campus positive or negative, that stemmed from Realignment these many years later. I asked Dr. Pat Thomas what kind of effects did he see on campus and were they positive or negative? He responded,


“Well, it’s quite obvious the negative effects. We went from over 2000 undergraduates when he (President Pietruszkiewicz) came, to around 1500 or so, so we’ve had a decline in the number of undergraduates of around 25%.”

I then asked a similar question to President Pietruszkiewicz, asking if there has been any effect positive or negative to come out of the final draft of Realignment. He stated,


“I think it has allowed us to be able to build from where we were…it impacted our faculty, our staff, our students, our alumni, their families, it’s not something I wanted to do either. Incredibly, I think difficult to not only be a part of on and for all of the university, but I do think it has allowed us to build and grow.” He continued saying,


“We’ve been able to invest in new programs and able to reinvest in some current programs. That has had a pretty dramatic impact on the enrollment proposition for the university and I think that part has been successful.”


Some of the newer programs that President Pietruszkiewicz mentioned are PhD in Health Professions Education and a Master of Arts in Innovative Leadership in Heritage Management.


When asking both of these questions the topic of enrollment was mentioned. Shown here is a graph depicting undergraduate enrollment, showing enrollment before President Pietruszkiewicz arrived and after to 2022 (which are all public information and also provided by Dr. Pat Thomas).

There has been a slight increase since Realignment, but nothing compared to years before. President Pietruszkiewicz did state that he does not believe strong change will be seen just yet but with these new programs, etc. there has been some enrollment changes.


This article has not been the easiest to write. Given from the statements provided by both a faculty member, Dr. Pat Thomas, and President Pietruszkiewicz, Realignment was not an easy time for UE’s history. Many individuals were affected by these changes, and many were scared for their futures. Students, faculty, and staff alike. These effects are still seen on campus today. Departments struggling with lack of professors to teach. Some students even struggling to graduate from certain classes not being offered from lack of faculty. A distrust was created among the university towards the administration. These are not ignorable effects, and they are non-negotiable. No matter if the goal of Realignment was to help with costs of the university and to prepare for a new demographic of higher learning. Many individuals were deeply affected, and Realignment is still a hot topic today after almost four years.


When I finished my interview with President Pietruszkiewicz, I asked him if there was anything specific, he would like to say for the article and he said,


“I think higher education is changing and it has been changing all around us. The world is changing, and higher education has to change with it. A big part of that is being able to work together with it. With the various parts of campus to be able to do that privately that what had been happening as part of the whole Realignment process. And I am hopeful that are faculty and our staff and our students, our alumni, and our administration can work together to make sure that we are providing the education that you expect.”

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