A petition to preserve St. Ambrose University’s theater major is circulating online.
The petition was started on change.org and states the university is considering the elimination of the major for financial reasons, leaving only the minor. As of Tuesday, the document had more than 2,700 signatures.
“Removing the theater major will rob many students of opportunities to take classes that will help them to develop and hone essential skills within and outside of the theater world,” the petition profile stated.
A query was sent to the university asking for more detail about whether any changes were being made or considered to the program, and St. Ambrose responded with a statement attributed to Paul Koch, provost and vice president for academic affairs:
"St. (Ambrose) University regularly evaluates academic programs based on student outcomes, enrollment and sustainability. These evaluations include input from faculty governance committees.
“We cannot discuss decisions that have yet to be made nor can we share a timetable for making such decisions given their complexity. As with all impactful decisions, we will weigh available evidence and input from the campus, including students, in order to make the best possible choices for the future of the university and its students."
The theater program’s page on St. Ambrose’s website still listed two majors — theater, and secondary speech and theater teaching — and a theater minor as of Tuesday. It also provides other details about the program.
The petition was started by Erika Seabloom, an SAU senior and a speech and theater teaching major.
She said she and other majors were notified of the possible change by the university when it asked for their input as part of its review.
Seabloom said she provided her own input, as well as a link to the petition and quotes from people who signed it.
The hope of the effort is to inform the university of a theater degree’s impacts that may not be quantifiable by dollar amounts or figures.
Graduates from the program have a good reputation among employers, Seabloom said. Such a change would deny future and prospective students of a degree that produces respected and decorated alumni.
Seabloom also used herself as an example — the theater program led her to choose St. Ambrose.
“Theater is my passion,” she said. “It is my future career.”
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