Reorganization Task Force

Dean Heller has formed the College of Arts & Sciences Reorganization Task Force for the purpose of evaluating CAS's current organizational effectiveness and efficiency. The Task Force is encouraged to compare the organization of CAS to Arts & Sciences Colleges that bear similarities to CAS (in size, mission, disciplinary orientation, student population, etc.), or have recently undergone a successful restructure. The Task Force will then share its findings along with any models they deem valuable for consideration. These findings will then be presented to the college community for a period of public comment, discussion and input regarding the proposals and any prospects for implementation in whole or part(s). 

It is envisioned that this will be a two-year process, with the first year devoted to research and community discussion of possible models for change, and the second year devoted to approving a model and engaging rigorously with necessary input processes (CAC, AAUP, Provost’s Office, etc.). The goal would be to begin implementing approved changes in Fall 2023, however that may change according to the needs of the process that guides us.  

  • Dean's Charge

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    The College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) Reorganization Task Force is being formed for the purpose of evaluating CAS' current organizational effectiveness and efficiency.  Our current structure of eighteen departmental units, which may have appeared sustainable when the College was supporting 25,000 students, has become increasingly leaden, siloing, and costly as our student population and tuition revenue have steadily declined. The need for reevaluating the College structure has taken on additional urgency in view of projected continuing enrollment declines, regional demographic shifts, loss of faculty and staff to retirement/buy-out offers, diminishing/flat support from the state, and stiffening competition from online and for-profit institutions.  Cost is not the only driving factor: new and emerging forms of cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary scholarly and pedagogical initiatives are transforming higher education priorities and programming. Disruptions stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic have spurred the adoption of instructional technologies that have the potential to connect us in meaningful and exciting ways—locally, nationally, and globally--with implications for our research, our programs, and our commitment to providing access and opportunity to a student population that has grown increasingly diverse and increasingly savvy when it comes to choosing their higher educational pathway. 

    The Dean’s charge to the CAS Reorganization Task Force is to assess our current structure.  To that end, the Task Force is encouraged to compare the organization of CAS to Arts & Sciences Colleges that bear similarities to us (in size, mission, disciplinary orientation, student population, etc.), or have recently undergone a successful restructure.  The Task Force will then share its findings along with any models they deem valuable for consideration. These findings will then be presented to the college community for a period of public comment, discussion and input regarding the proposals and any prospects for implementation in whole or part(s).  

    Our goal is multifold: from a budgetary standpoint, to streamline overhead and consolidate operations where possible, to balance resources in a manner that ensures equitable distribution of opportunity to students, and, perhaps, to realize new savings from reduced overhead spending that we may reallocate towards strengthening our mission.  From a programmatic standpoint, to fortify and unify CAS as we continue to "grow smaller," to consolidate our material and human capital, and to possibly create opportunities for joint hiring and hubs that support teaching and research objectives across units.  From an intellectual standpoint: to build on our research and instructional synergies, to fertilize conversations and collaborations that enable us to think side-by-side as an integrated community of teacher-scholars, and to give our students the chance to experience the richness and dynamic connectedness of the world of ideas.  And from a human resource perspective: to empower unit leaders and faculty to innovate, adapt, and exercise creativity in envisioning future programming and emerging pathways to student success.  In sum, our aim is to position CAS, and our students, for long term success in an increasingly competitive, diversified, and protean higher education landscape. 

    It is envisioned that this will be a two-year process, with the first year devoted to research and community discussion of possible models for change, and the second year devoted to approving a model and engaging rigorously with necessary input processes (CAC, AAUP, Provost’s Office, etc.).  The goal would be to begin implementing approved changes in Fall 2023, however that may change according to the needs of the process that guides us.  

    The Task Force will determine the process for delivering the charge and may consult with the dean as needed. The following principles are provided as general guidelines:  

    1. Prioritize models that retain the integrity of departments (and disciplines therein), as these identities are integral to the comprehensive identity and mission of CAS.  
    2. Take advantage of Eastern’s partnership with Hanover Research to obtain relevant data.
    3. Examine all data/models of interest, keeping in mind that only cost-saving or cost-neutral actions are likely to succeed at this time.  
    4. Consider the location of interdisciplinary programs within CAS, which currently have no departmental home and therefore no budgetary or infrastructural support.  
    5. Establish consensus on which proposal(s) will be sent forward for consideration by the College.    
    6. Understand that maintaining the status quo is not an option.  Change is inevitable, and the purpose of this Task Force is to ensure that CAS is the agent of change.

    Above all, the CAS Reorganization Task Force is charged with looking forward to CAS’s future.  The factors that have brought us to this point are familiar to many. Below, you will find some links to data intended to highlight those key factors that make the CAS Reorganization Taskforce both timely and necessary. 

  • Membership

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    The selection process for members of the CAS Reorganization Task Force began in Fall 2021, when the Administrative representatives were appointed by CAS Dean Dana Heller. Also during Fall 2021, Faculty were invited by the College Advisory Council (CAC) to apply for consideration of appointment to the Reorganization Task Force. After review of the self-nominations, faculty members were appointed by CAC. The Task Force has two co-chairs, one administrator and one faculty member. The Dean appointed the chairs, in consultation with the Chair of CAC.

    List of members

    • Peter Blackmer, Africology and African American Studies
    • Elizabeth Currans, Women’s and Gender Studies, Queer Studies, Critical Disability Studies, College in Prison Program
    • James Egge, Dean’s Office
    • Christopher Gellasch, Geography and Geology, Environmental Science and Society Interdisciplinary Program, Creative Scientific Inquiry Experience Interdisciplinary Program
    • Deborah Heyl-Clegg, Chemistry, Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (NSCI)
    • Kevin Karpiak, Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminology, Southeast Michigan Criminal Justice Policy Research Project (SMART)
    • Julian Murchison, Sociology, Anthropology & Criminology
    • Sandra Murchison, Art & Design
    • Barbara Patrick, Political Science
    • Robert Peavler, Music & Dance
    • Ildiko Porter-Szucs, World Languages, English as a Second Language (ESL)
    • Marshall Thomsen, Physics and Astronomy
  • Listening Sessions

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    During March and April 2022 the Task Force will ask Department Heads, School Directors, and Program Directors to facilitate unit-level listening sessions or alternative means of information gathering. These outreach efforts will include:

    • Email to each Department Head, School Director, and Program Coordinator inviting their unit to schedule a dedicated listening session or to submit written responses to the listening session prompts. 
    • Email to all faculty members, lecturers, and staff members inviting them to attend open listening sessions and/or submit responses via the anonymous Google form.
    • Email to the President of the Full-Time Lecturers and Part-Time Lecturers Union to invite their constituents to dedicated listening sessions and/or open listening sessions.
    • Email to the Presidents of the Clerical/Secretarial and Professional/Technical Unions to invite their respective constituents to dedicated listening sessions and/or open listening sessions.
    • Inclusion of all open listening sessions in the EMU Today Events Calendar.

    Our questions for discussion are:

    1. a. How could CAS be improved to provide a better experience and greater support for students we serve? b. How could CAS improve its ability to attract new students?
    2. a. How would you describe your relationships with other departments, programs, interdisciplinary programs, etc. in CAS? b. What could be done to create stronger and/or new relationships and collaborations between departments/programs/interdisciplinary programs?
    3. a. What do you see as some strengths and challenges of the current organizational, administrative, and staffing structures of your unit (school, department, program) and CAS? b. What would be your priorities for reorganization? 
    4. a. What do you see as barriers to CAS's stability and growth? b. Where do you see opportunities for growth? c. What are your visions for the future of CAS?
  • Send Feedback to the Task Force

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    Our survey is now closed, but we still welcome your feedback. Please contact co-chairs Elizabeth Currans and Ildiko Porter-Szucs with your comments and questions.

  • Contact

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    Please contact co-chairs Elizabeth Currans and Ildiko Porter-Szucs.

 

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