Cuts concern NIU colleges

By Markos Moulitsas

Echoing concerns by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that it is not receiving its fair share of university resources, the College of Business says it is facing the same problems.

David Graf, acting dean of the College of Business, said, “Whole academic areas have been cut and we’ve all been fairly wounded. We’re all suffering.”

LA&S points to figures showing a steady increase of students pursuing majors at LA&S while the amount of business majors in the same time period has been decreasing. Data from NIU Institutional Research shows over a 30 percent drop in the number of business majors within the last six years.

Graf disputed the figures on several levels. He said not all business majors are listed, since state guidelines require that departments declare majors by a certain time, excluding potential business majors who are in the process of applying for the school.

Graf also said, “In looking at business enrollment, (LA&S) has chosen 1987 as a baseline year. That is the year we were at our highest peak.”

Graf said using the six-year numbers gave the impression of a larger drop in students than would be the case if data for the seventh year had been used.

The College of Business prefers to use data from 1990-91, Graf said.

“Because of the AACSB (American Association of College Schools of Business), we deliberately cut our enrollment in 1989 to meet their accrediting standards,” Graf said. “If we don’t meet those standards, we lose the accreditation and the degree means less.”

Business also cut enrollment to ensure students would have a better chance to find employment at good wages.

“College of Business graduates were the best employed (of all colleges at NIU)” and had the highest major satisfaction rate of all the departments, Graf said. “We’ve done a good job of preparing students for life based on graduates’ assessments.”

Because of these cuts in enrollment, business majors have decreased, Graf admitted. Still, “The number of majors accepted into the college have remained the same (within the last 3 years), and we intend to keep it that way.”

Although LA&S says it has nothing against the College of Business, it contends requirements on business majors mandating they take 50 percent of their credit hours in LA&S puts strains on the college, a strain not felt in the College of Business, since no one is required to take business courses.

“Every student will take courses in LA&S. Not every student will take courses in business, engineering or education,” said Joseph Grush, assistant dean of LA&S.

Also a concern for LA&S is the many students who come to NIU to study business, yet fail to be accepted to the College of Business. LA&S says most of these “displaced” students wind up at their college, explaining LA&S’s growth at the same time the College of Business reduces enrollment.

“NIU attracts some of their best students because they are admitted to the university, and not to a particular program,” said Sue Doederlein, assistant dean at LA&S for student affairs. “Many people come to NIU to be business majors. They may change their minds or be denied entry and instead of looking elsewhere, they look for other majors within NIU.”

LA&S would like increased funding to deal with the increase in majors. Grush said the decline in students at the College of Business should free up resources and move them to where they are needed.

Graf disagreed, “We have eliminated double-majors to free up those resources. We’ve eliminated most of the areas we determined were inefficient. Our classes are full and all those courses are required.”

He also warned against further cuts. “If we were to cut any further, we’d have to turn students away from classes,” he said.

Doederlein, Grush and Graf stressed it was not an LA&S versus College of Business problem.

Doederlein said, “It’s not a LA&S versus Business fight, but an attempt to help our students. They need to shift resources to where the students are.”

Graf said, “We can’t have every college at each other’s throat. You have to realize that you’re not going to stumble onto great pots of money some people supposedly have stashed away.”