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Realignment v. reshaping: Liberal Arts tests theory

With effective positioning for the future as the goal, and acting on recommendations from the provost’s realignment committee, Erich Lear, dean, College of Liberal Arts, is experimenting with changes in the organization of the college.

A discussion about realignment began on the university level nearly a year ago when a small committee, jointly led by Fran McSweeney, vice provost for faculty affairs, and Chuck Pezeshki, past chair of the Faculty Senate, began to gather information at the request of the provost.

The biggest questions related to Liberal Arts pertained to the size and effectiveness of the college and whether it might be advantageous to divide Liberal Arts into smaller colleges comprised of aligned disciplines, such as the arts, social sciences and humanities. In its report prior to the end of the 2004–2005 academic year, the committee proposed instead an experimental period to reshape the college.

“When the report was issued we explored what changes we could try immediately,” said Lear. “The report has recommendations that could take some time to debate and implement, but we identified some interim steps we can make now.”

The biggest short-term change in the college is the organization of the dean’s office. The addition of two associate dean positions increases the number of associate deans to four. All associate dean positions in liberal arts will be part-time appointments. Additionally, the appointments are for one year as the college gauges the effectiveness of the strategy.

John E. Kicza, professor of history and former associate dean for research and facilities, is taking the position of interim chair of history. His position in the dean’s office has been filled by Paul Whitney, previously chair of psychology. Whitney’s primary associate dean responsibilities will include coordination of college research efforts and distance degree offerings.

Marina Tolmacheva, professor of history and associate dean for curriculum, is taking a leave of absence at the end of fall semester. Her position has yet to be filled.

Susan Ross, associate professor of communication, has accepted a position as associate dean for corporate and foundation relations. She will work in tandem with the college development office and academic units in seeking sponsorship opportunities to fund high-visibility events promoted by the college.

T.V. Reed will continue as director of American studies with half-time associate dean responsibilities focused on tenure, promotion and third-year review and collaboration on interdisciplinary studies.

“Our goal was to increase the effectiveness and responsiveness of college administrators without increasing the total of administrative costs,” said Lear. “And we have managed to do that.” The associate dean structure received approval from the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation during the summer.

The effectiveness of the reorganization will be evaluated in 2006 prior to implementing longer-term appointments and other reshaping ideas in the college. The experimental period recommended by the committee would be 2006–2008.

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