The following message was sent by the provost to students and alumni on Monday, June 15, 2020.
Dear Juniata Students and Alumni:
Juniata College remains steadfastly committed to the breadth of perspective that the liberal arts provide. It is imperative in this historic moment in which we find ourselves living that students are able to engage in a Juniata education that values curiosity, effective communication, critical thinking, cross-disciplinary study, intercultural competency, and civil discourse – the hallmarks of a liberal arts education.
Despite what you may have read recently on social media, recent decisions with regard to staffing and curriculum do not undermine the integrity of the liberal arts or the college mission. Curricular modifications are a routine part of the work of faculty. We spent several years revising general education to ensure it was a vibrant and contemporary expression of the liberal arts and we affirmed a new direction in 2018.
We have now turned our attention to departments and programs for much the same reason. At the request of the Board of Trustees, the faculty spent the last year engaged in a program prioritization process. We analyzed enrollment and staffing information over the past five years to facilitate staffing adjustments to match enrollment patterns. The work of a faculty committee led by me resulted in recommendations as to whether to enhance, sustain, or curtail resources for departments.
As a result, we will be suspending some POEs based on enrollment. Current students enrolled in those POEs will be able to complete them as they graduate. The opportunity to individualize or pursue a secondary emphasis remains. Suspending a POE does not mean eliminating an academic program or academic discipline. The data suggest that some departments are overstaffed based on current enrollments while others are understaffed. As we are not in a financial position to grow the overall size of the faculty, my goal in the near term is to add where needed which may mean reductions elsewhere.
The concern over POEs and departments is no doubt confounded because of recent staffing decisions. Last week, I made the difficult decision not to reappoint several faculty for the 2020-2021 academic year who have been on annual contracts and are not eligible for tenure. These decisions were based on a variety of factors and needed to be made now given the financial pressures facing Juniata exacerbated by the pandemic. Although painful, I deemed them necessary to secure our future and retain our identity as a nationally-ranked liberal arts college.
While these are challenging times and difficult decisions remain, I want to assure you that the arts and humanities are foundational to the liberal arts. They are essential to the Juniata curriculum as are the social sciences and the natural sciences.
Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have additional questions or concerns that I can address.