In an attempt to be pro-active, I would like us to spend this time discussing and thinking about where we want the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral & Social Sciences to be by 2020. There has been some discussion among the upper administration that we are getting “too big” in size and complexity indicating that at some point down the line we might have to consider splitting the college.
People have asked me what “being too big” means. One simple answer is that we are much bigger than the other colleges in terms of students, faculty, number of majors, number of departments and programs, complexity of budgets.
However if we look across the system then we see colleges that are much bigger than us and those that are much smaller than us so it is not merely about the numbers. It is about who we want to be in terms of our identity and the effectiveness of the organization structure in terms of our ability to make decisions, communicate with each other and work collaboratively.
I don’t have an answer but I think it is important for us to talk about it before someone else does that thinking for us. Being bigger could mean being stronger and having more power. But it could also mean being more unwieldly and less nimble. The answer might not be splitting the college but we should look at all the possibilities so that we can come up with a structure that works for us and supports our vision and strategic goals. If we can articulate that plan convincingly, coherently and thoughtfully then we have a better chance of having our voices heard and I will do everything I can to make sure that we are heard. To that end I propose that we have this conversation at the department level and then also at the college level with the goal of coming up with a plan that we can present.
At the suggestion of the department chairs and the college coordinating committee I have come up with a few questions that could help shape the conversation:
- What are the potential advantages of splitting the college into smaller units in 2020 or beyond, from the perspective of your department, the college and the university?
- What are the potential disadvantages of splitting the college into smaller units from the perspective of your department, the college and the university?
- If you could choose any structure you wanted, what would be the ideal structure from the perspective of your department, the college and the university?
- If we stay in one college, then are there changes that we can make to our internal structure that might enable us to be more effective in what we do and supports our vision and strategic goals?
Read an article on real obstacles to sustaining the liberal arts have to do with traditional organizational structures and curricular approaches: Liberal Arts, Inflexible Structures.
I welcome and invite conversations about this topic.
College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral & Social Sciences
Interim Dean Basu