By Kyle Heide
INDIANA — IUP NextGen is President Michael Driscoll’s plan to take Indiana University of Pennsylvania into the future. You read that and might think things like progress, innovation or transcendence.
Yet, the flashy name is a curtain that covers, at best, a reckless endangerment of academic careers. At worst, it is a sinister plan to eliminate art and humanities from IUP.
I am an IUP political science and journalism double major. I chose this school to study law, politics and the role of journalism in our political atmosphere. I hope to make a difference as a reporter because of the wonderful faculty and IUP’s exceptional reputation.
Now I wonder if I must start over, again, because I will be losing an entire program on top of losing faculty in another. The prospect scares the hell out of me, but what else am I supposed to do when I lose experts in the fields I am interested in?
MUCH OF THIS is speculation, since administrators are reluctant to give information. They mentioned merging my college, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, with the College of Fine Arts; “possible” lay-offs, many of which have been confirmed by faculty members I trust; and a teach-out program, in which students in affected programs will be able to finish their degrees, despite losing key faculty.
Around 130 faculty members are looking at retrenchment. The faculty, despite the pandemic, have held up this university in a global health crisis and were still able to deliver quality course content and engage students who were otherwise demoralized.
My inner empath is in agony over this. How many of those faculty have dedicated countless resources and time for the sole purpose of cultivating young minds with no thought of reward? Why are they now forced to be without a job because of reasons outside of their control?
I have too many questions that need answers before I can understand the decision-making behind this plan. Did everyone forget we are in a pandemic? Did we forget about how emotionally taxing this election year has been? Did we forget that the students are barely hanging on in classes over Zoom?
This decision is not “student-centered.” Call it what it is: IUP NextGen is sacrificing the students now in hopes of capturing students tomorrow. #ShameOnIUP.
Kyle Heide is a political science and journalism double major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is an organizer of the #ShameOnIUP coalition protesting the university’s restructuring plans and president of IUP’s Political Leadership Society. He is scheduled to graduate in May 2022. He is from the Scranton area.