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Academic restructuring decisions announced

Dec 21, 2009
From staff reports

On Dec. 17, Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit announced decisions on most of the major elements of the proposed academic restructuring. In an e-mail to faculty and staff, she indicated that an Academic Health Center will be established, that the College of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be refocused on health and wellness and that the mission of the College of Education will be expanded to include human development.

The College of Health and Human Services will become the College of Health Sciences and Professions, and the College of Education also will change its name to reflect its expanded mission. A decision on the unification of University College and the university's regional campuses is pending.

Benoit stated that she expects the College of Health Sciences and Professions to become a center of excellence and that, along with the College of Osteopathic Medicine, it will be a major driver in the establishment and operation of the Academic Health Center.

"The excellence that already exists in our health and wellness programs is noteworthy," said Benoit. "Refocusing HHS and giving it a signature role in the Academic Health Center will enable the faculty and staff who specialize in health issues increased opportunities to achieve national prominence while improving their abilities to serve students and local communities."

Interim HHS Dean Randy Leite indicated that he is pleased that the university recognizes the potential that exists within his college.

"We have much to be proud of in the course of our history as a college. The decision to refocus is, in many ways, a recognition of how well we build excellence in our academic programs and the scope of our potential to help the university meet its ambitions and needs for the future," he said.

Academic programs that will form the College of Health Sciences and Professions include: athletic training; exercise physiology; family studies; hearing, speech and language sciences; nursing; nutrition; physical therapy; and public health sciences and professions. At Benoit's direction, the departments will begin working together to form recommendations on a new internal structure for the refocused college.

In her e-mail, Benoit also indicated that the refocused college will evolve "as conversations continue with other units with a health and wellness orientation during Phase Two of the academic restructuring process. This phase will involve exploration of further program alignments and possibilities for new programs as the Academic Health Center refines its mission and identity."

In the expanded mission of the College of Education, Benoit also sees exceptional possibilities for the units involved and the university.

"The programs joining the College of Education bring expertise in sports and consumer pedagogy that complements the college's mission of preparing educational leaders who are committed to life-long learning," she said.

Bringing early childhood education, which has been housed jointly in HHS and education, together into a single college did not introduce a new disciplinary element, Benoit noted. However, having a united program and a laboratory school (the Child Development Center) will increase the College of Education's ability to compete for grants and foundation support.

Renée Middleton, dean of the College of Education, is pleased by the prospect of having new colleagues and the opportunity to do more for students, faculty, communities and the university.

"Academic restructuring is an important initiative at the university with the potential to influence our future in positive ways," Middleton wrote in a communication sent on Thursday. "The College of Education is pleased to play a central role in the realignment initiative by making a home for several strong programs that are currently housed in the College of Health and Human Services."

Two other colleges are involved in this phase of the restructuring. Sports administration and the Center for Sports Administration will become part of the College of Business. College of Business Dean Hugh Sherman stated that there is strong national support for bringing together sports administration programs and business education. He also pointed out that an affinity already exists among the involved faculty.

"The College of Business and Sports Administration have been working together for years, most importantly developing a highly successful dual-degree master's program that has benefited both organizations," he said.

Interior architecture will become part of the School of Art in the College of Fine Arts. In a welcome message sent to his college and his new colleagues, College of Fine Arts Dean Chuck McWeeny wrote of the advantage in having interior architecture as part of the nationally known School of Art.

"This is a dynamic time for designers and placing interior architecture into the School of Art creates a synergy that will result in many new possibilities," he said.

Reflecting on her decisions Benoit acknowledged the hard work that faculty and staff did to provide her information through a template process that she instituted on her arrival.

"The responses that I received were detailed and constructive. They were of great assistance to me in making my decisions."

President Roderick J. McDavis echoed her sentiments.

"Along with Dr. Benoit, I thank the many faculty and staff who worked together to provide information and insights to inform the decision making process," he said. "I support Dr. Benoit's recommendations and applaud this initiative to strengthen the strategic and academic potential of our programs. I very much look forward to the innovations and advances the faculty and staff engaged in these new relationships and collaborations will create."

Additional information on the restructuring, including next steps and a timeline, restructuring FAQs for students, general restructuring FAQs and the full text of Benoit's e-mail, can be found at www.ohio.edu/provost/Academic-Restructuring-NEW.cfm.


Published: Dec 21, 2009 9:19 AM


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