WILMINGTON — The faculty leadership of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter at Wilmington College has expressed disappointment in the college for its handling of “shelving” the Master’s in Athletic Training program, which the college announced Monday.
In a news release from WC faculty members Ursula McTaggart and Steve Szeghi on behalf of the AAUP chapter, “This decision was made without consulting the College’s Academic Policies Committee or Faculty Meeting, as required by the Faculty Handbook, a document which serves as a legal contract between faculty and the administration.
“The faculty strongly opposes this decision, both because they believe it is a poor financial decision and because the decision-making process failed to follow the procedures outlined in the Faculty Handbook.”
The AAUP states that, “The loss of this program not only affects graduate students but also severely impacts undergraduate students in the Athletic Training 3+2 program, who will no longer have a Master’s program to matriculate into. Because all Athletic Training programs must have a Master’s component, the undergraduate portion of the Athletic Training program will also disappear, and students will have to choose a related major, such as Exercise Science.”
The AAUP stated that Athletic Training faculty were informed on Wednesday, October 5 that the president would recommend to the board of trustees that the program be “laid down”, and the rest of the campus community was informed the following afternoon, immediately before the college’s fall break.
“Athletic Training faculty state, collectively, that they are very disappointed in the decision to voluntarily withdraw the accreditation of its Master of Science in Athletic Training program,” the AAUP chapter states. “We believed the rich history of the undergraduate athletic training program at Wilmington College, along with more time, would have allowed us an opportunity to grow and develop the master’s program.”
They want current students to know that they are committed to them and will continue to provide them with a high-quality education as the program concludes.
The AAUP quotes several students and alums — some by name and some who preferred their names not be used — who stated that they have lost their trust in the college and that other students feel “blindsided,” quoting a current student that, “I literally turned down offers to play my sport at other colleges to go here for the Master’s program and now I’ll never play again.”
The local AAUP also states that, over a series of meetings in July, the faculty conducted and passed a vote of “no confidence” in President Trevor Bates, and, “The administration’s choice to lay down the Athletic Training program, coupled with the disregard for appropriate procedure in doing so, speak to several of the concerns which led faculty to take this step.
“The faculty believe that this decision was made prematurely. The Athletic Training Master’s program was underperforming based on only one year of data regarding the Master’s section of the program. Enrollments of undergraduates in the 3+2 program were meeting expectations.
“The administration had one year to find a permanent director for the AT program and 30 days after the resignation of the interim director. They could have followed proper channels for decision-making, as outlined in the Faculty Handbook, during this time period but chose not to do so.”