Wednesday, April 12, 2006

More on Loyola

Today's Picayune had a follow-up article on the cutbacks at Loyola. Still no explanation of how Loyola came up with a five year plan to deal with declining enrollment, at a time when enrollment was increasing. However, it repeats the assertion that the cuts were necessitated by "declining enrollment" or "a drop in enrollment," using the terms interchangeably. Probably not worth noting the difference--unless "declining enrollment" becomes the preferred term.

I wouldn't even mention it, if not for another statement by Loyola's president:

The decision to drop programs was based on declining enrollment, Wildes said. "I hear a lot of passion about broadcast journalism," he said, citing a major with many advocates at the meeting. "When I look at enrollment figures, I don't see the translation."

That certainly implies that enrollment in broadcast journalism has been dropping, but I couldn't find any data to confirm or contradict that. Neither a Google search nor a search of Loyola's web site gave a breakdown of enrollment or degrees awarded by major. However, the most recent data that I could find showed communications degrees to be second only to Business in number awarded. Admittedly, that is seven year old data. To be fair, the same data does show relatively few computer science degrees awarded, so I suppose that it's possible that one could justify the elimination of the Computer Science programs as a short term (short sighted) cost cutting measure, the same could be said of the elimanted Education programs. It would be hard to reconcile either with the third paragraph of Loyola's strategic plan:

We live in an exciting age in terms of knowledge. There is a continuing knowledge explosion. More and more people accept the "new" economy as knowledge based. Knowledge is increasingly more interdisciplinary. We must be certain that education reflects this fundamental change so that our graduates are successful leaders and contributors. Learning is not merely a passive process whereby students absorb knowledge. It is an active process that involves the creation of new knowledge. Teaching and research are inseparable.

The impression that I get from reading the plan is that it reflects a rather conservative interpretation of the Jesuit mission. From the plan:

Revise the Common Curriculum to strengthen undergraduate education in the Jesuit tradition.

Strengthen the Jesuit identity of the university.

Although it's hard to imagine that Ignatius (Loyola, not Reilly) would have any more objection to a communications department than a business school, I could certainly imagine that a communications department might be seen as exerting a liberal or secular influence.

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