3 months old, new college settles in

by Vincent Staupe

As part of the University-wide restructuring plan, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences was formed July 1, merging several smaller colleges and a department.

The new college includes the former College of Natural Resources, College of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Science and the College of Human Ecology’s food science and nutrition department.

Now in the fourth month of the merger, the faculty, staff and students still wonder how the union will work out.

Staff and faculty members are concerned with the lack of leadership in the restructuring’s wake, said Dave Smith, the nutrition undergraduate program chairman.

“We’ll be a lot happier when we have a new dean,” Smith said.

Kate VandenBosch will serve as the interim dean until a permanent dean is chosen by the University’s CFANS dean search committee. A final decision date has not been announced.

Choosing a dean can be one of the challenges of integrating departments and colleges, Smith said, because of concerns about how the dean will approach the new college’s structure.

In particular, Smith said, some might worry that a dean affiliated with a specific department or college before the merger might be partial to that department or college afterward.

“Sometimes you almost have to go and get someone new because otherwise there’s always going to be the perception that the former dean will favor the old units and not the new units,” he said.

Bill Ganzlin, CFANS student services director, said the merger affected mostly the staff offices and left the students unscathed.

Typical student concerns such as majors, advisers and day-to-day activities have been dealt with the same way as in previous years, he said.

“Students hardly have noticed any change,” Ganzlin said. “The only thing they may notice are new faces in the student service office.”

The merger affected the student services department more than any other,

Ganzlin said. For example, he said, many staff members needed to reapply for their jobs.

“But support staff and others did not have to reapply,” he said.

Ganzlin said the student services office restructuring provided an opportunity for employees to look at their jobs in a different way.

“It’s a really exciting time because all of us basically have a new job,” he said.

Forest resources senior Andrea Dierich, the CFANS student board president, said some students are concerned the merger would mean larger class sizes and a less intimate college setting.

“I think that in the short term, the merge is probably good, but in the long term, we’ll have to see whether the college continues to be as cohesive or see if it just keeps getting bigger and bigger, like CLA,” Dierich said.

Still, agricultural industries and marketing senior Jessi Miller, vice president of the CFANS student board, said the students have felt little impact so far.

“I think (the merger) is going pretty good,” Miller said. “I don’t think students have seen too much of a change except some of the administration offices have been moved to Skok Hall instead of having them in Coffey Hall.”

Miller said typical student concerns like courses, advisers and professors are staying relatively the same.

And, while the merger appears to be met with plenty of anxiety, Ganzlin said, it has its blessings, too.

“I think, overall, it’s been challenging, people have really worked hard to get to where we are right now, but there’s a lot of excitement to build this new college and a new team,” he said.