June 7, 2020

University structure update in the works



Earlier this year, students had the opportunity to discuss a new proposed University structure with provost Dr. Jody Fournier. This new structure mainly focuses on the organization of the various departments and academic schools that make up the University.

After taking in feedback from multiple discussions with students, staff, and University leadership, students were again invited to provide feedback with a new proposed structure this past week. This proposed plan is not final, and is only the second version, so it is very much subject to change.

The main difference in this new structure is the transfer of responsibility from department chairs to deans. Instead of having a small committee of department chairs in trying to balance teaching and administrative tasks, there will now be two chairs per department who will report to a dean.

Boxes 10-21 in the diagram represent the new deans. These deans will be in charge of multiple departments and will report directly to Fournier. Also reporting directly to Fournier are all of the assistant provosts (boxes 4-9), as well administrators, such as the director of the CMC, the athletic director, and the University pastor (box 3).

The reason for this new organization is to allow for a more parallel structure across the institution, which ideally will allow for more open collaboration between departments as well. A structure like this will also hopefully free up some confusion for students who want to reach out to a department or area of the University they are unfamiliar with.

Although this proposed new structure may look good on paper, students in the feedback meeting still voiced concerns on how it would work in practice, particularly around some of the new groupings.

One concern was with box 17. This dean will be responsible for departments ranging from art and history to religion and theater. Thinking from a student’s perspective, all of these programs differ widely, so it may be hard to satisfy all of the various needs for these departments with just one dean, (who may only be an expert at a few of these focus areas).

A similar concern was expressed for box 19. This dean will be responsible for everything from criminology to the emerging media program to the military science program. To an outsider looking in, these academic programs don’t look to have much correlation to each other at all, but they are still housed under the same dean in this new structure.

One more main point of concern was students involved in the Conservatory of Music. This program is unique to the rest of the University, so there was some concern on how it would change to adapt to this new structure. According to the University representative, the Conservatory will remain mostly unchanged. Students also expressed concerns over timing of University events and major concerts, which will be looked at going into the future.

Overall, this new structure is not final, but rather a step closer to the final form. The proposed plan will offer a more parallel structure across the institution, which will hopefully offer more opportunities for new and unique collaboration, as well as less confusion for students as they explore various programs and opportunities. There are some major points of contention, but that is the goal of feedback sessions like the one held recently. Students are encouraged to actively engage in this process, and will be informed  of the decisions going forward as this new structure is finalized and implemented.

  • Zach Ferenchak is a current Senior studying Emerging Media with an emphasis in PR. Along with serving as managing editor for The Chimes, Zach is heavily involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America, where he serves as the organization's incoming National Vice President of Brand Engagement. He is an avid communicator who hopes to one day elevate brands and causes through effective storytelling.

Leave a Reply