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Bradley University president finalizes controversial academic cuts

Jeff Smudde

Bradley University has finalized the controversial academic cuts that have loomed over the campus all semester.

The cuts are largely identical to what President Stephen Standifird first proposed last month. But in an email to faculty obtained by WCBU, Standifird said that manufacturing engineering technology and public health education will continue as program offerings at Bradley after his meetings with department chairs following the initial announcement.

Fifteen other programs, like business law, religious studies, and statistics, will be phased out. Five others will no longer be majors, but classes will still be offered as part of the core curriculum. Those include economics, philosophy, French, mathematics, and physics.

"As I share these final decisions, I feel the need to reiterate – this was not an easy process, and these changes are not a reflection of any one faculty member or program," Standifird said in the email.

Thirty-eight faculty positions will be cut, and another 23 will be eliminated through attrition, for a total of 61.

Bradley University's American Association of University Professors chapter has retained legal counsel. The faculty organization maintains that Standifird's cuts are breaches of the faculty handbook, and thus, their contracts. The group is now fundraising "to defray legal expenses for Bradley faculty whose positions are being wrongfully terminated."

"The president’s decisions to eliminate programs in foundational disciplines and to fire award-winning and nationally-recognized faculty will seriously damage both Bradley’s core academic mission and its bottom line," the AAUP said in a statement. "His decisions also undermine the fundamental tenet of the American system of higher education, the free pursuit of knowledge safeguarded by tenure, and violate the letter and spirit of the university's contract with its faculty."

Bradley's University Senate voted overwhelmingly last month to pass resolutions of no confidence in Standifird and provost Walter Zakahi due to the handling of the cuts.

Standifird says the university is running a $13 million operational deficit, and cuts are needed to stabilize the institution's financial situation and placate the banks. Faculty have criticized what they see as cost-slashing that falls disproportionately heavily on academics.

The president said the cuts will affect less than 3% of Bradley's current students, and they will be able to finish out their majors or programs on the Hilltop.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.