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Indiana State University

Source: WISH-TV / other

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Indiana State University is planning to lay off a handful of non-tenured instructors and professors at the end of the school year.

Many at the school say that the university has been hit by lower enrollment numbers over the last three years, which has forced the state to ask ISU leaders to cuts millions of dollars from its budget.

“We have known for months that we need to cut $12 million from our budget,” said Dr. Lori Henson, an ISU journalism instructor. “That was what the state had told us to do.”

Those cuts are coming in the form of jobs at Indiana State University. One of those jobs will be Henson’s, who is the only full-time journalism professor at ISU. Once she is laid off at the end of the semester, the school’s classroom instruction in journalism will essentially cease to exist.

This is of grave concern to Henson since ISU’s demographic is mostly students of a diverse working-class nature who otherwise would not be able to get decent access to journalism as a career field.

“If these students don’t have access to these ideas and skills then they are not going to be equipped to do the work of Democracy that needs to be done,” she said.

The defacto elimination of ISU’s journalism classroom instruction comes on the heels of a massive renovation of the school’s Dreiser Hall where the Communication Department is based. That included brand new equipment for ISU Student Media’s student-run radio station, an overhaul of TV broadcasting facilities, and new offices for the Indiana Statesman, the school’s student newspaper.

ISU Student Media is a separate entity from the school’s Communication Department.

The renovation was worth millions of dollars in state money.

Though students will still be able to practice journalism as part of the TV, radio, and newspaper clubs, Henson said that not having classroom instruction on journalism could essentially lessen what students can learn about print and broadcast journalism within those programs.

The university is citing lower enrollment and the effects still being felt by the pandemic as the primary reasons for the layoffs. Before the pandemic enrollment at ISU had eclipsed 10,000 students. According to the latest numbers, the school now boasts just under 8,000.

“There are just fewer high school graduates,” Henson said. “Not because the percentage has gone down, there are literally fewer people graduating. So this is a long-term problem.

Henson added that lower enrollment is an issue that all post-secondary schools are dealing with.

Indiana State University president Dr. Deborah Curtis said that they are doing all they can to keep people employed.