University College reorganization announced

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Nicole Ziege

University College will be dissolved and the placement of its academic units will be reorganized, according to a faculty and staff-wide email sent by the provost April 11.

The academic units within University College currently include Diversity and Community Studies, the Honors Academy, the School of Professional Studies and the School of University Studies.

“We have been working steadily and thoughtfully to identify the best new homes– both academic and, in some cases, physical — for [University College] personnel and programs,” David Lee, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said in the April 11 email.

Diversity and Community Studies will move to Potter College of Arts and Letters under Dean Larry Snyder, according to the email. The Honors Academy will be dissolved as an academic department and the faculty sent to the department most appropriate to their training; however, the faculty will maintain “primary teachinging assignments” that support the Mahurin Honors College, according to the email. The School of Professional Studies will moved to the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and the School of University Studies will be dissolved and faculty sent to the department most appropriate to their training, according to the email.

Dawn Hall, the director of the School of University Studies, said the School of University Studies will continue to be a school until June 30, and its 17 faculty members will transition into other colleges and academic departments.

She said five faculty members will be moving into the math department, five into the English department, one into teacher education for literacy and one into the School of Professional Studies to teach University Experience.

The School of University Studies provided a retention center, called Student Support Programs. Hall said this retention center included programs like Summer Early Entry, which was a summer bridge program and Academic Community Engaging Students or A.C.E.S., which is the oldest living learning community on campus.

Hall said one of the Student Support Programs that the School of University Studies is known for is the Cornerstone Program, which provides what Hall refers to as “stepping-stone classes” in English, literacy and math. Hall said about 360 students utilized the Cornerstone Program.

The School of University Studies also provided the Alice Rowe Learning Assistance Center, a tutoring center which employed 14 undergraduate tutors.

“Basically, we functioned as a student support for students who need a little extra help to be college ready,” Hall said.

Hall said the future of their programming is uncertain.

“I’m not sure about the programming that we do,” Hall said. “That’s still in question right now.”

Hall said the School of University Studies teaches underprepared and at-risk student populations as well as traditional students. Hall said a large underrepresented minority student population received support from the School of University Studies.

Hall said she and faculty members of the School of University Studies met with Lee. She said they were initially told they were going to stay together as a unit and move into the College of Education and Behavioral Science. The decision to split up the School of University Studies came later.

“We didn’t know if we’d dissolve or not, but we were told that we would not dissolve,” Hall said, regarding how she thought initially that the faculty would not be split up. “That just means that you focus on student success and adjust to your new circumstances.”

Prior to Lee’s email announcing the dissolution of the School of University Studies, the school already lost three employees due to the first wave of budget cuts, as well as the tutoring center staff and the office associate.

Although the School of University Studies is dissolving after June 30, Hall said the students who were taught by the school will not be going away.

“We’re just not going to be a unit that’s together, which makes it a little bit more challenging to make sure we have a firm safety net for students that are at-risk or underprepared,” Hall said. “That’s our worry. We want to see the students be supported.”

Hall said the departments that have been receiving faculty and staff from the School of University Studies have been compassionate during the transition.

“So far, all the departments that have been receiving faculty and staff have been very understanding, very gracious, very compassionate,” Hall said. “That’s a good sign.”

Lee said in the email there is still more work to be done. He said Academic Affairs is committed to protecting tenure and promotion rights as well as abiding by any pre-existing agreements relevant to individuals.

It was announced on Feb. 26 that the Budget Council recommended eliminating University College as a cost-saving measure. The elimination will go into effect on July 1 of this year.

News reporter Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Nicole Ziege on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.