New Academic Structure – Effective July 1, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for your input and discussion over the last few weeks regarding our academic structure. The purpose for looking at restructuring is a simple one, to create a structure that will allow a student to begin in a school and stay in that school until they graduate (recognizing some will change majors and possibly schools). This aligns seamlessly with the USG momentum year effort of helping students begin with an “area of focus.” It is an effort to help our institution grow big and stay small. In this structure all schools will participate in the core. All schools will have Bachelors and at some point Masters degrees, and all faculty will share the responsibility of helping students succeed from the moment they are admitted to the institution through graduation.

I recognize that in each school, there is not a perfect disciplinary overlap. Health and Natural Sciences will have some disciplinary similarity (i.e. anatomy, physiology, some biology, some chemistry), but also some disciplinary content that is not shared (i.e. ecology, astronomy, physics, nursing, OT, or RT). The same is true for Mathematics  and IT. We should think of the shared disciplines as a Venn Diagram in which each school has content specific to a discipline, but also some shared content as well. 

These new school structures also share something that is, in my mind, more compelling. That is, a place for a student to belong. As a freshman a student can become part of a “school” from which they can graduate (recognizing that some will change majors within or outside a school). This element of belonging is important in and outside the classroom and is a critical part of retention. This is an effort to help students find a home and stay there. This also balances, to some extent, the administrative load of a dean. The standard deviation of the number of faculty within a school decreases from 46 to 22 when compared to our current structure.

As part of our discussions, I have received several questions about retention such as: who is responsible for retention in the core? Our current retention rate of students with fewer than 30 hours hovers around 17%, so who is not doing what they need to do to retain them? Often these questions are looking for someone or something to blame for this problem. 

This new school structure is an attempt to reframe the question of retention and its underlying assumptions. It is an effort to remove the use of the terms ‘they’ and ‘their’ from our shared culture. Statements such as “freshman retention is their problem,” or “we would graduate more students if they would teach better.” In this new environment of shared responsibility within the schools, graduation rates for successful programs become “our” graduation rates and the word “our” includes those who teach in the core and those who teach upper division courses. Retention, program growth, student success, faculty career success, promotion and tenure guidelines, resource allocation, and all the other issues we deal with on a daily basis become “our” opportunity to collaborate rather than “their” problem to fix. This structure is a step toward build shared culture by realizing our challenges and success are “ours” to own and we own them within “our” schools. This will require rethinking and collaborating between faculty who teach at all levels, staff, administrators, student mentors and any other person or resource that is in one of “our” schools.

During this process, I have received feedback via email, phone, survey responses, conversations with senate leadership, and many others to discuss alternative structures and identify challenges.  These have been helpful in shaping the structure and implementation of a slightly redesigned academic structure that will be effective on July 1, 2019. This school and department structure is outlined below. We will begin searches for two new deans (Business and Arts and Letters) very soon. While this email does not answer all questions, we will continue to work through the remaining questions in coming weeks. Thank you for your participation in this process and thank you even more for owning the success of “our” students who belong in “our” schools.

Best regards,

Jon Anderson, Provost

Effective July 1st “our” schools will be:

The School of Arts and Letters, with the departments of:

English

History

Media, Culture, & the Arts

The School of Aviation, with the departments of:

Aviation Maintenance and Structural Technology

Aviation Science and Management

The School of Business, with the departments of:

Health Services Administration

Two departments, yet to be organized (will work with the faculty on an optimal structure)

The School of Computing, with the departments of:

Information Technology

Mathematics and Statistics

The School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, with the departments of:

Political Science

Psychology and Criminal Justice

Teacher Education and Social Work

The School of Health and Natural Sciences, with the departments of:

Natural Sciences

Nursing

Occupational Therapy

Rehabilitation Science

Respiratory Therapy