Regents approve several department splits

Shawntaye Hopkins

Faculty in four departments may soon have to update their business cards.

The Board of Regents’ academics committee approved on Friday to split several departments in Potter College and the Gordon Ford College of Business.

The department of modern languages and intercultural studies will be divided into the department of folk studies and the department of modern languages.

The department of accounting and finance, the department of economics and marketing, and the department of management and computer information systems will all split into six departments within the Gordon Ford College of Business.

The changes will go into effect on July 1, pending approval by the Board of Regents. The regents meet on April 30.

The folk studies program and the department of foreign languages were merged about 20 years ago to meet budget cuts, said David Lee, dean of Potter College.

Anthropology separated from the department of sociology about 10 years ago and joined the department of modern languages and intercultural studies.

“These departments are growing wonderfully, but they’re growing in different directions,” Lee said.

Western’s folk studies program attracts students nationally and internationally, Lee said. There are only nine graduate folk studies programs in North America.

There is a growing need for expertise in modern languages, Lee said.

Modern languages also manages a required general education course. The program needs more part-time faculty to teach the required classes, Lee said.

If the departments are separated, folk studies will occupy space in the fine arts center, rock house and log cabin.

A second department head for folk studies will be hired internally, Lee said. The only cost will be a salary adjustment.

Linda Pickle, the current department head for modern languages and intercultural studies, will become the department head for modern languages. She said interaction between the two programs has been minimal, and the separation will not have any effect.

“It’s just an administrative, structural change,” she said.

A new office associate in folk studies will also be hired, Lee said. The job, including benefits, will pay less than $30,000.

Modern languages will also renovate a storage space in FAC for a departmental office. That will cost about $32,500, he said.

Enrollment growth has caused a need for several departments in the College of Business to separate, Dean Robert Jefferson said.

Six departments were consolidated into three departments in 1996. Enrollment in the undergraduate majors has since more than doubled from 900 students to 2,100 students, Jefferson said.

The college has also added minors in entrepreneurship and international business since 1996, he said. The number of full-time faculty has increased from 54 to 67 and several part-time faculty positions have been added.

Jefferson said each department will probably be able to function better if the people in that department are only focused on one thing.

There will be few costs associated with separating the departments in the business college, Jefferson said.

Each department already has its own department head, so only contract adjustments will have to be made, he said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]