LUBBOCK, Texas — Five Wayland Baptist University alumni started a petition on Sept. 24 following several program cuts at the private university.
According to a press release from the university, cuts have been made toward Band, Theatre, Opera and Geology programs.
In the petition, the former students said they are disappointed in the actions made by the Board of Directors. Theatre major and contributor to the petition, Rachel Steed, said she understands the school may be struggling, however, the Arts are critical to education.
“We know that the finances are tight right now, and it’s kind of hard to predict the future by cutting so many programs at once us a pretty severe action,” Steed said. “It’s very hard to think that they didn’t see it coming and so we want to make sure that they have a plan of action to ensure that future cuts are not needed.”
The petition has more than 350 signatures. Steed said they are hoping to receive 1,000 signatures total. Steed said they will be presenting the petition on Oct. 5.
“They are an educational institution first and their first priority should be to the health and well-being of the student body, and if they have made decisions that have impacted the health or well-being for success, they need to reverse course because that is their first duty–are the students involved with them there,” Steed said.
Steed said they are asking that the Board of Directors take corrective action, that includes allowing staff to complete their academic contracts, allowing programs to continue until, and getting alumni more involved.
“As Alumni, we feel it’s pretty incredible that we were not notified that there were funding issues with our universities,” Steed said.
The following is a statement from Wayland Baptist University:
As a result of challenges and enrollment trends that are affecting small, private universities, the Wayland Baptist University administration announced cuts to programs and operational budgets.
In a statement, the administration said, “After careful consideration, the university is taking difficult but necessary steps to ensure it is positioned for future success and fulfilling its stated mission during these unprecedented times.”
Wayland’s Board of Trustees affirmed the cuts, including a reduction in force affecting those in athletics, academics, and other staffing areas.
As a tuition-driven institution, enrollment and the number of credit hours taken by students are critical to the operational budget. Reductions in those budgets were made in all areas of the institution including academics, athletics, and at both external campus and Plainview campus units.
The approved cuts included the band/instrumental programs as well as theatre, opera/musical theatre, and geology. The campus in Clovis, N.M., will be closed effective Jan. 1, 2021, and the Altus, Okla., campus will be absorbed under the Wichita Falls campus. Several teaching sites and testing centers will also be closed.
Competitive cheer and dance programs were cut from Wayland’s athletics programs earlier in the year. Wayland will still have a sideline cheer team, but it will not take part in competitions.
Wayland President Dr. Bobby Hall said reducing program offerings is difficult, but he is encouraged by the opportunities that remain for students.
“These decisions are hard for our students, alumni and others affected by the decision,” Hall said. “But our commitment to creating even stronger programs and providing a world-class Christian education remains strong.”
The School of Music will reimagine its mission, emphasizing piano, choral and worship music. The School of Fine Arts continues to offer art education, two-dimensional and three-dimensional studio art, graphic design and media communications. Geology remains as a minor in the School of Mathematics and Sciences, and will be in important part of environmental science degree programs.
Wayland officials are working with students in the affected areas to help them find solutions that suit their needs. Juniors and seniors will have the option to complete their degree plans.