Professor Association Criticizes Loyola Over Collapse of International Programs

Alexa Galas | The PhoenixAn AAUP report showed Loyola has lost money — as much as $25 million in tuition — because of the university’s shrinking international student population.

Loyola’s international student population — students from foreign countries who study in the United States — has been getting smaller since 2017, and a report by the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) says it’s cost Loyola as much as 25 million dollars in lost tuition. 

“The last two years have seen a collapse of international programming and the enrollment of international students at Loyola,” the report said.

The report said since 2018, Loyola’s global engagement — programs for international and domestic students such as study abroad — has been decimated with the separation from the Beijing Center in 2019, the restructuring of the English Language Learning Program (ELLP) and the vacancies in key positions in the university administration. 

Loyola’s Beijing Center, a former satellite campus, stopped being offered to students at the end of spring 2019, The Phoenix reported. At the end of last school year, Loyola’s ELLP went through major restructuring,  The Phoenix also reported

The Office of International Programs — the university department in charge of study abroad and international students — has been without an executive director since the last one resigned in February 2019, the AAUP report said. Similarly, the vice provost for global programs position has been vacant since Patrick Boyle resigned in 2018 and returned to his role as a political science professor at Loyola.

Boyle didn’t respond to requests for comment. Loyola’s Director of Communications Anna Rozenich didn’t respond to requests to confirm these positions are vacant. 

Loyola’s ELLP — is a program designed for domestic and international students to learn English while attending Loyola — has seen declining numbers since 2017.

Enrollment in the ELLP was between 100 to 200 students every year from 2011 to 2018, according to data from the AAUP report, with 138 students enrolled for the 2017-2018 school year. The year after, there were only 80 students and this year there are only nine. 

“While on paper the ELLP remains open, the administration’s actions have decimated the program,” the report said. 

Loyola said its reason for restructuring the ELLP was it was losing money, but the AAUP found it was still profitable until last year. 

“[AAUP] estimates that in closing the ELLP, the administration has … lost several million dollars annually,” the report said.  

New Loyola Provost Norberto Grzywacz — who started Feb. 1 —  said in a statement to The Phoenix the report is flawed but agreed that international engagement needs to be improved. 

“Some statements in this letter do not agree with my findings,” Grzywacz said. “[But] I look forward to listening and learning more about the ways in which we can focus our efforts on the international front.”

Grzywacz didn’t respond to further questions about why he said the report was flawed.

Sarita Heer, a Loyola art history professor and member of the AAUP research committee, said that data analyzed in the report either came from the university or from a 2019 Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education — an organization that studies international education in the United States. 

The report said the ELLP’s restructuring and vacancies in key positions have contributed to Loyola’s three years of declining international student numbers. There were 108 new international students in 2017, while this year only 63 first-years were international students, according to the report. 

Other Illinois and Jesuit colleges such as Northwestern University, Boston College and University of Illinois at Chicago saw an increase in international student enrollment in 2019, the report said. Loyola saw a 12.6 percent decrease compared to 2018, according to the report. The drop in enrollment has cost the university millions of dollars in lost tuition revenue, according to the report.

Erina Miranda, co-president of the International Student Club, said she’s seen it having an effect on her club.

“A lot of international students come to feel more included but we’ve seen a drop in numbers,” the junior neuroscience major said. 

She also said that programs like the ELLP help international students feel comfortable and should be made a priority. 

The report also criticized the university for making these decisions without consulting faculty and staff as part of Loyola’s shared governance — a system where faculty and staff can have input on university operations, according to the university website.  

“This administration is making a habit of these consequential decisions without any of the usual consultations that should be made,” said Reuben Keller, a Loyola ecology professor and officer in the AAUP. 

The AAUP has been a long time critic of Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney’s administration, calling her “ill-equipped” to lead the school, The Phoenix reported. 

Keller cited the closure of ELLP, the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) and the switch in health care providers, as examples. Many Loyola faculty and staff expressed concern when the university switched health care providers — a decision made without faculty consultation,Phoenix also reportedSome professors were unable to keep their current doctors, affecting their families as well. LUMA began restricting public access last year, The Phoenix reported.  University officials cited a loss of profit. 

“It demoralizes the faculty,” said Hill. “Why do we have shared governance in place if no one consults it?”

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