From staff reports
Ohio University's deans have developed the blueprint for an academic restructuring plan aimed at aligning the university's existing strengths, creating new opportunities and pursuing administrative efficiencies.
The 11 Athens campus deans, executive dean for regional higher education and five regional campus deans laid out their proposal in a white paper issued earlier today. A cover letter that accompanies it notes that discussions with faculty about restructuring will begin immediately and resume after spring break. In addition, the deans plan to hold at least two general open forums early spring quarter.
"For 30 years, Ohio University has been defined by the same academic structures," the blueprint stated. "In some ways those structures have served us well, but in others they have pushed to the margins the impetus for innovation, the ability to be nimble and the degree to which interdisciplinary work is possible.
"The restructuring envisioned by the deans is not meant to set in place the academic boundaries for the next 30 years. ... It is the first step in moving the university to a philosophy of continually examining how it can re-imagine and rebalance itself."
The blueprint calls for four fundamental developments:
- Creating an academic health center comprising the College of Osteopathic Medicine and health sciences and professions programs in the College of Health and Human Services. Those programs -- the School of Nursing; School of Physical Therapy; School of Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences; and the School of Public Health Sciences and Professions -- plus a new School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences and Athletic Training would form a College of Health Sciences and Professions. The academic health center has the potential to develop a number of new programs for high-demand professions and would join existing academic health centers in northeast, northwest, central and southwest Ohio.
- Reunifying the Early Childhood Education Program in the College of Education. The program has been offered jointly by the College of Education and College of Health and Human Services for 12 years.
- Integrating other programs in the College of Health and Human Services with other colleges based on what would most benefit students, faculty and the university as a whole. For example, the blueprint noted the possibility of Family Studies, Physical Education and Recreation Studies joining the College of Education; Sports Administration, Retail Merchandising and Restaurant, Tourism and Hotel Management joining the College of Business; and Interior Architecture joining the College of Fine Arts.
- Combining Regional Higher Education, University Outreach and University College to create a new college with unique degree opportunities and a focus on access, outreach and success.
"Given that colleges, schools and departments matter to people's daily lives, any realignment of them must be capable of demonstrably bringing significant academic benefits to the university," the document stated. "Potential cost savings associated with restructuring colleges, schools and departments cannot be ignored, but the deans agreed that to make changes primarily on the basis of administrative efficiencies, even in the current difficult economic times, would be penny wise and pound foolish."
The white paper contains few details, in large part "because it is only through conversations that the substance of the restructuring can take full form," the deans' cover letter stated.
It noted the need to conclude those conversations by the end of May so that implementation teams can recommend by the end of the calendar year how the realignments can take place.
The white paper appears in full on the Executive Vice President and Provost's Web site in PDF format. (An OAK login and password are required.)