CUA Express
The Catholic University of America Student Government Association • Washington, DC 20064 •

Academic Reform Proposal Clarification 


March 15th, 2018

Catholic University Students,

            My name is Jon Paul Weiss, Vice President of the Student Government Association and I am reaching out to you all today to clarify a few things regarding the Academic Reform Proposal. Through emails, social media and word of mouth, there have been many things inaccurately stated. As an undergraduate student like you all, I can see how easy it is to be concerned about your academics. I would now like to put some minds at ease.

            Yes, it is true that there has been an Academic Renewal Proposal. By clicking the button below you can read the proposal in its entirety.  I would like to emphasize the word proposal because it is just that, a proposal. Nothing has been enacted, it has been proposed to the faculty led Academic Senate this morning and it has been voted to be sent to multiple committees for further discussion.

            I will now speak to what this proposal contains. This has been an initiative taken by the University that began earlier this year in reaction to “concerns with the increased competition for students resulting from the decline in the number of high school graduates in the northeast United States and of private high school graduates nationwide.” The administration felt that in order to succeed in this new environment, we need to find ways to strengthen both our academic excellence and our financial sustainability. After meeting with faculty and students the Provost’s office has developed a formal Proposal for Academic Renewal, which was discussed in the Academic Senate today. 

            Recently, Provost Abela sent out a newsletter to faculty and this is what it included. “The specific objectives of the Proposal are to enhance the University’s research reputation, support sustainable teaching excellence and enable significant revenue improvements. It includes the following initiatives:
●    Improved support for faculty and student research
●    Increased investment in teaching development support
●    Creation of a new School of Music, Visual, and Performing Arts that will bring together all arts faculty to foster cross-disciplinary efforts in and anchor the University’s commitment to the Arts
●    Reinforcement of the benefits of undergraduate education being delivered by active, world-class researchers, scholars and practitioners
●    Continuing to launch new programs in areas of high interest to current and prospective students
●    Maintaining all current programs, courses and sections, and low student-to-teacher ratios
●    Renovating science laboratories, classrooms and performance and rehearsal spaces

The renewal hopes to allow students to have more of their courses taught by faculty who are leaders in their fields of research and scholarship and will reduce teaching costs and hence strengthen financial sustainability. The rebalanced teaching loads will result in fewer faculty in certain academic units, which will be addressed through voluntary incentives and, depending on the number of voluntary departures, potentially also a reduction of faculty through non-renewal of contracts and elimination of tenured positions. The proposal’s intentions are to ensure that no programs, courses or sections will be cut as a result of the Academic Renewal project, so that the quality of the student experience is maintained and strengthened. With the assistance of the consulting firm of Kennedy and Company, the administration determined the minimum number of faculty necessary for each department or non-departmentalized school to staff its current course offerings. The difference between that number and the current faculty count gave us the estimated faculty reduction required, approximately 35 fewer than our current staffing. The Proposal calls for the elimination of those positions after the Spring 2018 semester. Of this number, approximately 25 are faculty who have indicated an intention to leave voluntarily, the majority by taking the current Early/Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program. The remaining ten or so would be faculty whose contracts are not renewed or whose tenured positions are eliminated. The current estimate is that four of these would come from the School of Architecture and Planning, three from the School of Music and three from the School of Arts and Sciences (two from the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and one from the Department of Media and Communications Studies). 
I share these numbers with you in the spirit of transparency, but at the same time I want to emphasize that they are still only preliminary. Indeed, the final count will not be known until the end of April, when all signed agreements for voluntary retirement have been submitted. It is possible, indeed highly desirable that, through voluntary withdrawals and other efforts, no involuntary reductions of faculty will be necessary.”

The Academic Senate, through its designated committees, is expected to consult widely with faculty, students and administrators prior to its final vote, anticipated to be held during its May 9 meeting. The Senate’s recommendation will then be forwarded to the Board of Trustees, which will vote on the Proposal during its June 5 meeting.
As your student representative, I want to be a clear communication between you and the administration. As a member of both the Academic Senate and a special committee who will further speak about the proposal, I want to make your voices heard. The Student Government Association hopes to host discussions and town halls in the near future. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to us at  For additional information from the Provost please visit

All the best,

​Jonathan Weiss
Vice President | Student Government Association
Read The Proposal