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Utica University AAUP rallies on proposed changes to majors, Board of Trustees to decide by Feb. 24

New Utica University banners hang outside of Sherwood Boehlert Hall as President Laura Casamento announces the college’s new status as a “university” at Utica College on Thursday, February 17, 2022 in Utica, NY. The NY State Board of Regents approved and endorsed the college’s petition to elevate to University status effective immediately. (PHOTO BY NANCY L. FORD)

The Utica University chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) as well as other campus community members rallied on Friday to oppose potential changes to academic majors. The Utica University AAUP recently voted to censure the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees received a recommendation which would eliminate majors like Chemistry, Physics (B.A.), Geoscience, Philosophy, Spanish, International Studies, Therapeutic Recreation, Healthcare Management, Nutrition, Sociology & Anthropology, and modify majors like English, History, Math, Political Science and Accounting. The AAUP feels there's been a lack of transparency in what led to this recommendation.

The group marched from Duffy Plaza to Bell Hall where the Utica Board of Trustees meeting was taking place, chanting things like "Hey, hey, ho, ho, all these cuts have go to go," and "What do we want? Transparency. When do we want it? Now."

Doug Edwards, a philosophy professor and vice president of the Utica University AAUP, was one of the speakers.

"If I was a board member in that room right now, I'd be looking at the passion, the desire that had been shown in the last few weeks," Edwards said. "I wouldn't be thinking, 'Oh, we need to cut these programs.' I'd be thinking, 'My goodness, just look at how much these people care. Look at how much they care about their programs, look how much they care about each other. They care about the students and if they care this much to protect their program, imagine how much they care about teaching them.' That is a fundamental resource for this institution. That is the heart and soul of this institution. That is what we should be building. That is what Utica is all about."

Daniel Tagliarina, a political science professor at Utica University, asked the crowd to grade the board of Trustees.

"F!" the crowd yelled.

"You're a little meaner than me," Tagliarina laughed. "How about a 'D?' 'D' for dismissal from faculty concerns. A 'D' for demeaning of faculty and students in these majors. A 'D' for disingenuous in the promises of transparency and data. A 'D' for deleterious in their duties."

A statement from the Utica University Board of Trustees states that the board will finalize and communicate its decisions on recommended changes to academic majors by Friday, February 24.

"The Board continues to approach these decisions with the utmost thoughtfulness, care, and, most of all, concern for the students and families we serve," the statement reads. "We are grateful for everyone who has added input and perspective to this process through a variety of ways."

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.