Faculty vote against recent program eliminations

The board of trustees will make the final decision to keep or cut the art, French and German programs


Simpsonian file photo

by Randy Paulson and Zoe Seiler

SIMPSON—Simpson College faculty members voted in favor of keeping three of the four academic programs which had been recently targeted for elimination in October. The votes occurred during a special faculty meeting on Dec. 10, according to faculty members present at the meeting.

President Jay Simmons had announced in an Oct. 10 email that the college would eliminate the Art Department as well as the French and German majors. It would also restructure the Clinical Health Science major.

The faculty voted 67 percent in favor of keeping the Art Department and 71 percent and 68 percent in favor of keeping the French and German majors, respectively. Meanwhile, 55 percent of the faculty voted against keeping the Clinical Health Science major, according to a document summarizing the faculty vote totals.

The votes put the majority of faculty members in opposition to college administrators, including Simmons, who had recommended the elimination of the four academic programs.

Student Body President DJ Duve and Vice President Jailyn Seabrooks were among a handful of students who attended the faculty meeting.

“The faculty spent a long time discussing the value that these departments and majors bring to our campus,” Seabrooks said in a Facebook message to The Simpsonian. “They also raised very real concerns that students also share about teach-out programs and concerns about the graphic design program. It was inspiring to see the faculty come to the defense of these programs and these professors.”

In response to the announcement of the eliminations, students staged a protest in the Kent Campus Center on Oct. 19 during a board of trustees meeting. Students whose programs of study were affected by the cuts spoke about the importance of those programs.

The final decision regarding the elimination of faculty appointments and academic programs resides with the Learning Programs Committee of the board of trustees, according to previous reporting by The Simpsonian.

Sharon Wilkinson, professor of French, said in an email to The Simpsonian that a significant number of the faculty members are concerned with cutting the programs and hoped to communicate these concerns to the administration.

“My sense was that many faculty were hoping to communicate their desire to pause the prioritization process in order to allow faculty to be more involved in the decisions,” Wilkinson said.

She also said it was validating to see so many other faculty show support for the French and German majors and that she and other foreign language professors are grateful for that support.

“We have worked very hard to build unique and compelling programs focused on intercultural skills and have been recognized for our pioneering work by world language colleagues nationally,” Wilkinson said. “We are grateful for the support of our Simpson colleagues in their rejection of the administration’s proposal.”