Wittenberg University cuts 6 academic programs, reduces positions

Wittenberg University in Springfield has announced it will discontinue six academic programs and reduce positions to address financial challenges magnified by the coronavirus pandemic. STAFF FILE

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Wittenberg University in Springfield has announced it will discontinue six academic programs and reduce positions to address financial challenges magnified by the coronavirus pandemic. STAFF FILE

Wittenberg University announced Monday that its board cut six academic programs and reduced positions to address financial challenges magnified by the coronavirus pandemic.

RELATED: Wittenberg University provides reopening details, fall start date

The measures will save $2.5 million, the university announced.

The cuts include:

  • Discontinuing six academic programs: archaelogy minor; geology major and minor; French minor; Japanese; Russian minor; Russian and Central Eurasian Studies. Students already involved in majors or minors in these programs will be able to complete their studies. Earlier in the year, the board discontinued the French major and the dance major and minor.
  • Eliminating two tenured faculty positions, one each in geology and Japanese. The faculty will continue at the university through the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Not filling other faculty positions left open by retirement and resignation.
  • Eliminating staff positions, including dissolving the graduate and professional studies office and reducing staffing in other areas.

The reductions were recommended to the board by the 11-member Academic Program Futures Committee formed in February to identify savings.

“These are painful but absolutely necessary steps,” the Rev. Jonathan Eilert, chairman of the Board of Directors, stated in a release posted on the university’s website. “We’ve spent months working on these plans. We’ve heard from faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni. The decisions we’re making reflect input from all those groups to help us reach this point,”I also fully understand that people are losing jobs and academic programs are being eliminated. Those are among the most difficult decisions any university must make. And it speaks to the serious financial situation we face.”

University President Michael Frandsen said it will be a different Wittenberg University opening in the fall, but he said there are reasons for optimism.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Wittenberg announces fall start date, plan details

“We know when classes are starting,” Frandsen stated. “And we’re working every day on how we’ll reopen safely, but differently.”

The university previously announced in-person classes for the 2020-21 academic year will begin Aug. 17.

The incoming freshman class is 16 percent larger than the previous year’s freshman class, and first to second year retention is tracking at the highest rate since 2014, the university announced.

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