Deans released in SFU reshuffle

University reorganizes schools, plans more contract terminations

Saint Francis University in Loretto has eliminated two dean positions, and next year, the university is set to let go at least 14 faculty members as part of its academic restructuring.

Dean of the School of Arts and Letters Tim Whisler and Dean of School of Sciences Charles MacVean were let go. Attempts to reach Whisler and MacVean by phone failed Friday.

While all faculty positions are in place for the 2018-19 year, 14 have contracts that will terminate after the year end, said university spokeswoman Marie Young.

In addition, the university is offering voluntary separation agreements through September for more faculty who are eligible for retirement, she said.

Young said some faculty will be replaced in accordance with the development of new programs, for example, speech pathology.

Current programs and majors are still available and are now organized under three schools instead of four.

The Shields School of Business is led by Dean Randy Frye.

The School of Health Sciences and Education is led by Dean Don Walkovich.

The School of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics is led by Interim DeanPete Skoner.

The university based the organizational changes on an evaluation of the school and dean structure that was implemented in 2008.

“The new organizational framework better aligns academic programming, while decreasing current infrastructure costs that are outpacing enrollment revenue,” a press release stated.

The university projects an undergraduate enrollment of 1,468 for fall of 2018, down from 1,576 in 2016.

“Obviously, that means a decrease in tuition revenue,” Young said in a phone interview Friday.

“The whole Northeast is projected to have declining college-age students. There is no growing pool of 17-year-olds,” she said.

However, she said the university is still investing; a groundbreaking ceremony for a new health sciences commons took place in late July.

The project for the Health Sciences Experiential Learn­ing Commons was funded through a $1 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant along with a $2 million anonymous donation.

“The rumor is we are cutting the humanities, but really we are integrating the humanities better to what the industry demands are,” Young said.

In a statement, university President Father Malachi Van Tassell said: “Even as the university emerged as a leader in health care education and created a strong science and engineering portfolio, our fundamental belief in the value of the liberal arts has never wavered. And it never will. Yet, it is no secret that market forces have not been kind to the perception of the liberal arts. Over the years national enrollment trends have shifted toward majors aligned with clear workforce objectives.

“That being said, we believe that a holistic, liberal arts education, grounded in the Catholic-Franciscan tradition, is more relevant than ever. While the liberal arts are a constant, the way we deliver liberal arts programming must change.”

A review of all programs is planned between 2018-20 for recommendations on consolidation, elimination, growth and transformation opportunities.

The academic restructuring plan is coupled with a campuswide review of operations in non-academic areas, including athletics.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.