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Letter: Alumnae want the reasoning for recent department cuts

By MARY RENNEKAMP VEGAS and ERIN GARLAND
On February 27, 2014

Dear Editor,
As we are sure you are aware, significant cuts are continuing at Loyola University. While this is a tragedy, as alumnae we are concerned that these cuts are being made indiscriminately and without regard to effective programs.
The department of theater has long operated with a skeleton staff and Dean Boomgaarden and the powers that be, have decided to drastically reduce the hours of three key members of the already lean department.
While we wouldn't like it, we could better understand this decision if the department was running at a deficit or if applications are down. Neither is the case. The department has remained "in the black" for upwards of 20 years and applications are up from this time last year by almost 50 percent. We chose to attend Loyola as theater majors because of the well-rounded, hands-on education. We guarantee that this hands-on education is the same reason that others make the same decision. When made aware of these seemingly indiscriminate cuts, many alumni wrote letters to Donald Boomgaarden, dean of the College of Music and Fine Arts, and University President the Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J., expressing concern and dismay, and asking for clarification.
Those students and alumni who have written have all received the same canned response that did not address our questions and concerns. Furthermore, we learned current students have attempted to get an audience with the dean and they have been rebuffed.
While it is important to increase the number of applicants to the university, it is equally important to ensure that current students are feeling supported and heard. What kind of message does this send to the students who are paying tuition and - lest he forget - the dean's salary?
So we would like to know the following:
What types of cuts and reductions are facing the departments that aren't experiencing an increase in applications? Are they being asked to make the same kinds of reductions? If not, why? If their departments aren't contributing to the financial health of the university, why are they able to keep their departments operating as they are?
We are aware of the previous round of layoffs that included 18 staff members and 12 non-tenured faculty members - were any of those layoffs related to under-performing departments in terms of applications and enrollment? What other reductions are being made within the College of Music and Fine Arts? Are they really equitable? How was it determined what department would shoulder which requirements?
We don't think it's out of line to ask for transparency when you say that the entire college is shouldering these reductions in a fair way. Please point us to a statement on the college or university's website that outline these reductions and how they are being equally divided amongst the departments within the College of Music and Fine Arts.
We are saddened and frustrated that the alma mater that we hold in such high regard has such little regard for its students - both current and future - and its alumni. The administration is fooling itself if they think this particular decision will not "adversely affect" student's education. But what do we know? We were only educated at Loyola University. 

Sincerely,

Erin Garland, A'01
Employee Professional Development Manager for K-12 Education at Hobsons
Past President, Alpha Psi Omega

Mary Rennekamp Vegas, A'03
Director of Development & Communications at Friends of the Children - King County Member, Alpha Psi Omega
 


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