U goes ahead with planned college mergers

Yelena Kibasova

As the University realignment train moves forward, the plan for academic alignment reached a destination Saturday.

With six colleges merging into three, July marks a time for new administative titles, transferring faculty members and high hopes.

Sharon Reich Paulsen, assistant vice president and chief of staff to the provost, said the hope is to create synergy among the merging colleges.

College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences
Employees in the new College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences worked their first day under the new title on Monday.

The college merged the University’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment Sciences, the College of Natural Resources, and the Department of Food Science and Nutrition from the College of Human Ecology.

Reich Paulsen said the merger combines the scholars of each college into one unit.

“It should facilitate the creation of something that is new and better equipped to deal with the challenges that face both the region and the nation and the world,” she said.

A dean for the new college has not been named, Reich Paulsen said. Kate VandenBosch, a professor and the head of plant biology, will be interim dean.

“There is a search committee right now that is very active and will expect to bring finalists to campus once students and faculty come back,” she said.

VandenBosch said she has been phasing into the position over the past month.

“The main thing that I’ll be working on is Ö implementing the recommendations from the task force on the merger of the two colleges,” she said.

College of Education and Human Development
Although the new college keeps the old name, it will bring in a new department of postsecondary teaching and learning (formerly the General College), the School of Social Work and the family social science department.

“The whole idea of the new College of Education and Human Development is education and human development across the lifespan,” Reich Paulsen said.

Although there has been dispute over the alteration of the General College, Saturday marked the final switch.

“I think that this is really an excellent move for General College,” Reich Paulsen said. “I think it will further the mission of the research agenda that they pursued in General College and I think it will be better for the students.”

Reich Paulsen said the problem was that the General College “was not what it should have been.”

“Students were coming here and they would stay for years and years, and not graduate,” she said. “It’s not fair to those students.”

The new department will provide assistance and access to students who need developmental education, Reich Paulsen said, but will admit fewer students.

Terry Collins, former interim dean of the General College, will serve as interim dean of the new college until Darlyne Bailey takes over the position in October.

College of Design
The College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the department of design, housing, and apparel made their transition into the College of Design.

Thomas Fisher, dean of the new college, is settling into his position this week. He said he is trying to get used to having a lot of staff members.

“(The College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) used to be a relatively small college and we had a relatively small staff,” he said. “Design is going to be double the size, so for the first time Ö I’m going to have (a large) staff.”

Reich Paulsen said the college brings together students who are interested in some aspect of design.

“It has them bumping into each other and it has them exchanging ideas and that’s all for the good,” she said. “It does the same thing with the faculty.”

Although the old college and department are integrated, the department of design, housing, and apparel is still on the St. Paul campus while the architecture school is on the Minneapolis campus.

Fisher said merging the colleges on one campus will take years.

“In the meantime, we’re going to do all we can to connect people so that students have an opportunity to interact,” he said.

Fisher said he will provide connection opportunities for students and faculty members such as interdisciplinary courses, social events and a college launch event.

Shifting positions
The reduction of six colleges to three reduced the number of some positions.

Reich Paulsen said she realizes the period of change has brought uncertainty for faculty and staff members.

“The University has been sensitive to the kind of stress that change or potential change can cause and has worked very hard to help employees,” she said.

Reich Paulsen said the University’s human resources department has been working with employees to match them to opportunities as needed.

“The University is a large place and there is turnover all the time,” she said, “and so there are opportunities created all the time.”