After over a year of online learning, recent cuts to faculty and majors and changes made to the university as a whole one question looms; what is the future of Cabrini going to look like?
Post online learning
Rewind back to March 2020 when everyone was sent home. This was the start of more than a year of online learning that no one saw coming.
Now back on campus, Cabrini has had to adapt to a safe and new way of attending school with COVID-19 still a part of our lives.
With the pressure of trying to please everyone, Cabrini has sent many emails changing the university’s policy due to the pandemic. Of course there were protocols in place last school year, but by the time June came, the protocols almost seemed to be changing monthly.
At the end of June, Dr. Stephen M. Rupprecht, dean of students and Cabrini’s COVID-19 Task Force chair, sent a student and employee vaccination survey intending to see the amount of those in the community who were fully vaccinated, intend to be fully vaccinated, or are seeking a valid exemption for the coming year.
Rupprecht then sent a follow up email in early July stating the COVID-19 vaccine would be required and an exemption option would be put into place for those who did not want to receive it. The email also explained how those vaccinated would not have to wear a mask and those not vaccinated would have to wear one throughout campus and get tested every couple of weeks during the semester.
Students were now in a position where if they didn’t believe in the vaccine or couldn’t receive it for medical and/or religious beliefs, they had to be one of the few on campus to wear a mask leaving the rest of their peers knowing they aren’t vaccinated.
By the time August came, Rupprecht sent another email to the community with a new change in protocol. Although by this point the vaccine requirement itself didn’t change, but all students, faculty and staff, regardless of vaccination status, were now required to wear a mask while indoors.
Post recent cuts to faculty and majors
Starting another school year in a pandemic also included cuts made to majors and many favorable professors leaving.
With so much change happening in the Cabrini community, what does this mean for those being affected directly?
Students are losing majors and professors they’ve learned from and loved. Faculty and staff are losing jobs they’ve had for years. Enrollment is going down and not only is the Catholic university cutting religious departments leaving the students in those departments to adapt to a new major but they’re also cutting parts of some of their main majors that draw students to the school such as education and communication.
Katie Reing, a Cabrini alumni, said, “Cabrini’s recent changes to faculty and academic department structures is appalling.”
Reing explained how she was referencing Layal Srour’s “University cuts departments, lets full-time professors go” article from April.
“Valued and beloved tenured faculty members were more or less forced to take early retirement,” Reing said. “As it was explained to me, it was like Russian roulette because long-time faculty didn’t know if they would be laid off if they didn’t take the early retirement package which is exactly what did happen, cutting departments is absolutely infuriating and disgusting; that a Catholic university such as Cabrini no longer has a religious studies or philosophy department is both nonsensical and embarrassing.”
Reing went on to talk about the university’s other announcement at the time about having a provost and five vice presidents referencing “Cabrini announces three-School structure” on the website.
“What an unnecessary amount of administrators and a convoluted waste of resources,” Reing said. “It hardly ‘puts the interests and success of our student body first,’ but instead silos students and academic programs.”
Reing said she hopes the remaining faculty “form a union, and I sincerely wish that Dr. Taylor be relieved of his position; he has been overpaid and has underserved.”
She said as an alumnus herself, she will never donate money to Cabrini because of their “poor planning and what I consider repeated short-sighted misuse of funds.”
“The faculty and staff are one of the biggest draws and blessings of that school for not only was I lucky enough to be taught by Dr. Primiano, I also studied under such devoted faculty as Dr. Jerry Zurek, Dr. Marilyn Johnson, Dr. Seth Frechie, Dr. Charlie McCormick, Dr. Jim Hedtke, Dr. Jolyon Girard, and Dr. Joseph Romano,” Reing said.
She said although many of those were not impacted by this “particular layoff cycle and forced retirement, it makes me absolutely furious for the faculty who were. Adjunct professors are also paid nothing and treated as utterly disposable. It’s gross.”
What does the future hold for the university?
So, what does all this mean for Cabrini University as a whole? In some ways, only time can tell the direction these changes will take the community.
With so many different opinions on whether what has been done in the past has been a positive or negative impact, everyone can agree on wanting to see the university excel in the future.
Cabrini has been doing what they believe is the best strategy with the hand they’ve been dealt these past two years. Moving forward we can only hope the decisions that have been made will create a promising path down the road.