IELP Retrenchment: Is it really necessary?

February 24, 2021 / PSU-AAUP

You may recall that in our last member news we shared that the Intensive English Language Program (IELP) Faculty is facing retrenchment. This continues the trend of the past few years where many faculty, staff, and APs in the IELP have already been cut. Article 22 of the PSU-AAUP contract states, “a condition requiring reduction or elimination of a department may be declared if the President finds that institutional operations within a reduced budget, or failure to reallocate funds, would result in a serious distortion of the academic or other essential programs and services of the University if retrenchment procedures were not implemented” (Article 22, Section 2B).

Is the retrenchment of this program really necessary? We no longer have a xenophobic and anti-education federal administration. The pandemic is temporary. The University is proposing cuts to faculty and administrative professionals who are experts in internationalization, one of the University’s goals. How can the University meet this internationalization goal if they cut the very workers and programs that support it? (Not to mention that the workers in IELP are primarily Non-tenure Track and Academic Professionals - workers who are relatively poorly compensated.) Moreover, many of the students enrolled in IELP programs become full-time students at Portland State. By slicing and dicing IELP, we potentially eliminate a pathway to grow student matriculation that will surely benefit the University in the future.

Current IELP administrators, faculty, academic professionals, and staff are poised to be of immense value to the University in its Open for Fall, Open for All initiative, which include temporarily lowered GPA requirements and the Summer Bridge Program. These programs will likely include multilingual domestic students in need of academic skills and support beyond direct language teaching, which the IELP has extensive experience in delivering through its Pathways programming, Multilingual FRINQ and SINQ labs that have been offered in collaboration with University Studies, and in the Writing Center. 

Finally, IELP is already in the midst of a merge with the Office of International Affairs, a move that is focused on streamlining and strengthening the University’s international recruitment and enrollment efforts and credit and non-credit bearing programs. We believe there should be a continued investment in preserving the core functions of the IELP and the University in order to be at the ready to meet what is likely to be an equally dizzying turn around in the near future. To reduce the IELP’s faculty at this point would undermine and jeopardize the many different initiatives that are already underway.

A special Faculty Senate meeting on the retrenchment of IELP is slated for Monday, March 15th from 3-5pm. Members are encouraged to attend this special meeting.

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