Budget might close book on minor

By Peter Schuh

The English minor at NIU might be the first program to fall victim to the budget crunch.

Although not slated for termination by either NIU administration or the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Productivity, Quality and Priorities (PQP) initiative, several English department officials said they fear that the minor cannot long endure against NIU budget cuts and increasing student demand for the department’s services.

English Department Chair James Miller cited what he felt was the problem which the department was grappling with and why the minor may be affected.

“The problem we have to face is that the funding has been dropping out at the very time the student demand for our programing is rising,” he said.

“Student demand for class permits has increased by 10 percent from fall of 1992 to spring of 1993. We have discovered that we cannot assure the people who have an English minor that they could get the classes they wanted,” Miller added.

Charles Pennel, director of English undergraduate studies, agreed with Miller’s viewpoint. He said departmental concern surrounds the fact that English minors are finding it anywhere from difficult to impossible to get the requirements they need to fulfill their minors.

Pennel said that students enrolling for an English minor are required to sign an informed consent form, formally acknowledging their understanding of the situation.

“We’re trying to be honest with the students and we try to tell them the bitter effects of their decision,” he said.

Pennel added that this elimination would have detrimental effects on elementary education majors, who have to have an emphasis in a language, science, or math for their majors.

He said that elementary education majors with an English emphasis must have a minor in English to get the classes they need for their emphasis.

“If they couldn’t get the requirement from us, they would have to go somewhere else to get it. If we can’t provide it, then somebody would have to provide it or they can’t certify,” Pennel said.

In regard to issuing permits, Pennel said he felt “the process has become more and more of a juggling act.” He said he was pleased to add that no senior English major was, or ever has been, denied a course necessary for graduation.

“We added some classes or there would have been some real disasters for senior English majors,” he said.

However, Pennel added that not all senior English minors were so lucky. Only one out of every three permits requested by English minors was granted, and senior minors were among the majority who were denied.

Pennel said that the earliest the minor would be cut would be for the beginning of the 1993 fall semester. “We would be very reluctant to do that and we would be very slow to do that,” he added.

He said he did not feel too certain that a reprieve would come for the minor.

“It’s quite clear we will continue to be cut along with everyone else in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and unlike some other colleges in this university.”

Pennel added what he felt might be a contribution to the problem—a sentiment which was shared by several faculty members at the last Faculty Senate meeting.

“I think that the category of growth we have had the most at this university in the 22 years that I’ve been here has been in administration and not in academics,” Pennel said.