The Academic Planning Committee held a virtual public hearing on Wednesday to discuss the elimination of the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design in the College of Education and Human Sciences.
The elimination of the TMFD department is a part of the proposed Phase 2 budget reductions that were announced in September.
The budget hearing was open to any students, staff, faculty and the public. Nearly 200 people tuned into the hearing, and more than 40 professors, alumni and current students spoke at the hearing, which lasted over four hours. Many of the speakers wore shirts that said “#SAVEUNLTEXTILES” and “we’re born naked we live clothed.”
Jennifer Jorgensen, assistant professor in textile, merchandising, and fashion design, was given the most time to present, and she gave an overview of the entire program, how it is thriving and why it should not be cut.
“This is simply a cut that cannot be made,” Jorgensen said. “Are you okay with cutting a department that is the most diverse department in the College of Education and Human Sciences? Are you okay with cutting a department that serves a predominantly female population? Are you okay with cutting a department that is on an upward trajectory? Are you okay with cutting a thriving department? Are you okay with getting rid of award-winning faculty?”
In her presentation, Jorgensen said if the program were to be cut, the university would be violating all seven of the general issues outlined by the APC in regards to procedures for significant budget changes. Along with that, the faculty and staff were not consulted before the public announcement of the possible elimination of the program, according to Jorgensen.
There was not only support from people inside the university but also people outside of it. Brook Hudson, a producer of Omaha Fashion Week, spoke to the committee and showed her support for the program.
“Right now in the state of Nebraska, there are over 1,000 students studying fashion through high school and extracurricular programs. And these could be your students, and they should be your students,” Hudson said.
Many speakers connected the TMFD department to agriculture and economic development, and they shared personal stories on how the program has changed their lives.
“It wasn’t until I began seriously involved in fashion design that I realized how vital fashion is as a form of expression. I finally found a place for myself as a student,” Adria Sanchez-Chaidez, a graduate student in textiles, merchandising and fashion design, said.
Not only was the support for the program abundant, but the support for the staff members was a highlight of many speaking points.
“My proudest accomplishment in the 15 years during which I was chair was hiring this cohort of faculty,” said Michael James, previous chair and professor. “I think they have given evidence today of their outstanding capacity to embrace the department and work toward fulfilling its mission.”
The APC will make its final recommendation on whether to eliminate or preserve the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design in November.
The committee plans to hold a general hearing on any proposed Phase 2 budget reductions, including the Masters in Athletics Administration in the College of Business and the Hospitality Management Program in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 3 p.m.