Plan suggests merging depts, reviewing CLA

by Anna Weggel

CThis article is the second in a three-part series outlining various structural changes to the University a task force recommended to University President Bob Bruininks in March. Bruininks will propose some or all of these recommendations to the Board of Regents in May, and the board will vote on them in June.

Changes to the University proposed by a task force in March include creating a new College of Education and Human Development and a review of how the College of Liberal Arts is organized.

The changes were given to University President Bob Bruininks and aim to turn the University into a world-class institution.

The new College of Education and Human Development would include departments from the current college, the College of Human Ecology and General College.

According to the task force recommendations, integrating colleges that deal with community and family social structures, education and human development would help advance similar academic priorities and commitments.

The task force recommended the College of Human Ecology and General College to become departments within other colleges rather than remain separate colleges.

The department of design, housing and apparel within the College of Human Ecology would merge with the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture to form a new College of Design.

The department of family social science and the School of Social Work, both part of the College of Human Ecology, would become parts of the new College of Education and Human Development.

Shirley Baugher, College of Human Ecology dean, said the reactions of people in her college to the proposed changes are mixed.

“People are excited about the new opportunities and sad about the changes to the college, I think,” she said.

Baugher said the College of Human Ecology has begun hosting receptions for people from the colleges it might be merging with so they become acquainted with one another.

“Regardless of what the Board of Regents’ decision is, it’s the healthy thing to do,” Baugher said.

If the plan is passed, General College would become the department of general developmental education within the College of Education and Human Development.

The report said General College is not fulfilling its mission, which is to provide access and support to underprepared students to help them achieve degrees.

“Despite the efforts of a talented and dedicated faculty and staff, the college has not been able fully to achieve this goal,” the report stated.

Robert Poch, General College assistant dean and student services director, said he doesn’t think a new department would better serve students.

“I don’t know how this would be a healthier or more effective structure for students than that which the General College provides currently,” he said.

Poch said people from General College are asking the University for an open dialogue about the proposed changes.

“We hope that the University administration and the regents will be willing to provide the time and opportunity for other ideas to emerge in addition to those of the two task forces,” he said.

The proposals also include creating a task force that would review CLA’s design to help the college reach national standards for excellence in education, scholarship and research.

Besides Bruininks and E. Thomas Sullivan, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, the task force would include CLA members and people outside the college who aim to enhance undergraduate education at the University.

“The success of CLA is critical to the University’s success in achieving the regents’ mandate of becoming one of the top three public research universities,” the report stated.

Priority issues the task force would discuss include attracting high-ranking high school students, improving graduation rates and enhancing advising and mentoring within the college.