President's Update Regarding Academic Structure, 5/10/17.


President’s Update Regarding Academic Structure, 5/10/17

Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

At yesterday’s open forum, the Academic Leaders Group (ALG) – Associate Provost Debra Liebowitz, Dean Chris Taylor, Dean Javier Viera, Associate Dean Jessica Lakin, Associate Dean Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, and I – outlined our model for restructuring the academic administration. This message summarizes the forum for members of the community who were not able to attend.

The ALG outlined the principles that guided their conversations over the past few months as they met, internally and with members of the community, to develop a recommendation to me about a revised academic structure centered around a chief academic officer / provost. The general principle guiding the ALG’s work was to ensure that as many resources as possible would be devoted to student success. Specific principles were that a new academic structure should:

  • ensure that all three schools thrive;
  • increase cooperation and coordination among academic units, which includes both the schools themselves and the units that are integral to the success of the academic mission (e.g., the Libraries, Academic Services, Academic Centers, etc.);
  • reduce high-level administrative costs and create workload efficiencies; and
  • centralize the academic voice.

In the attached document, you will see the recommended organizational chart, which I have accepted. It is important to note that this is an aspirational model, and it will take some time to fully realize the benefits of this structure, which includes a joint Provost/Dean of Arts and Sciences (which includes the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies and the College of Liberal Arts), a Vice Provost/Dean of the Theological School, two Associate Provosts – one for Academic Services and one for Academic Administration – Associate Deans in both Arts and Sciences and the Theological School – two of whom will work very closely on graduate curricular issues – and a centralization of units integral to the academic mission and the success of all of our students.

I have no doubt that you will note that this document does not contain names of people in these positions. There are some positions where there is an obvious incumbent: for example, Dr. Javier Viera will continue to serve as Dean of the Theological School, although he will now also have the title of Vice Provost and will also function as the person who leads faculty governance initiatives as well as other projects as assigned by the President or Provost.

There are other positions where there is no incumbent – the Provost/Dean of Arts and Sciences position, for example. It has not yet been determined who will serve in these positions. Within the next week to two weeks, I will send a communication to all full-time faculty and staff outlining my thinking on a process for selection of a provost, and seeking input to that process.

Both the ALG and I understand that there is still much work to be done as we iterate toward this academic structure. It was not part of this initial process to work out all the downstream consequences of this transition – this must be done over the coming year with the units and individuals involved. There are several larger issues that the ALG addressed specifically:

  • This organizational chart is effective July 1, 2017, but we will consider the next academic year a transition period as we continue to have conversations with all relevant stakeholders about this structure.
  • We envision that all faculty governance structures/committees will continue to exist/meet during the first part of this transition period, but faculty governance as it relates to this new academic structure awaits further conversation with the faculties.
  • Many people in this organizational chart have to have a University presence. It is not yet clear how we can accomplish this goal within our existing physical space, so this is a conversation that will continue over the next several months.

We look forward to your continued engagement in these important conversations.