Ian Davison discusses initial Academic Organizational Review committee recommendations


Davison social

Renaming an academic college and deconstructing a department are part of the preliminary recommendations for Central Michigan University's Academic Organizational Review. 

The academic reorganization initiative completed its first review phase Jan. 29 with the public release of preliminary recommendations from the provost and three committees, which include academic structure, academic support and responsibility centered management.

Ian Davison, senior vice provost for academic reorganization initiative, discussed the recommendations during the Academic Senate meeting Jan. 30.

Part of CMU's 2017-2022 "Advancing Excellence" strategic plan calls for a review of the organizational structure of academics and administration. 

“This isn’t a program review,” Davison said. “If you’re in an academic program, that program will be back in the fall. The program may be housed in a different department or college, but it isn’t going away.”

The organizational review was conducted by three committees that were appointed by President George Ross. Leading the Academic Reorganization Initiative is Davison, who was appointed to his position after serving as dean of the College of Science and Engineering.

Committee members were announced Oct. 11. Members gathered input via email, surveys and proposals until Nov. 17. Since then, committees have reviewed the suggestions and decided what would be most beneficial to student success.

“The committees have always thought, first and foremost, about the best interest of the students.” Davison said. 

Centralized advising

Committee II, the academic support committee, reviewed academic units that directly impact students. This includes advising, recruitment and counseling. 

The largest change has to do with student advising. Currently, students have to only meet with an adviser three times in their academic career:

• At orientation

• Upon signing a major (56 credits)

• During a pre-graduation audit (80 credits)

Committee II recommended mandatory advising for freshmen in Fall 2019 and mandatory advising for all undergraduate students, including transfer and international students by 2020. 

After implementation, freshmen will be required to meet with an adviser at orientation and once per semester. All students will be required to meet with an adviser once per year after their freshman year. It was also recommended that registration be closed for students until they have met with an adviser. This will be implemented in Fall 2019.

“The committee was convinced the one thing that would contribute most to student success is providing greater advising support for students and requiring it,” Davison said.

The committee suggested centralizing advising to ensure all advising is consistent for students. According to the reports, all advisers — excluding faculty — would report to an executive director of advising. 

Under the executive director would be a director of general advising and a college director of student services. The college director of student services will manage college advisers, residential college advisers and online advisers.

The director of general advising will handle all other advisers, including transfer, honors, international, athletic and pre-major advisers, along with tutors.

“Right now, some advising happens in the colleges and some happens in Enrollment and Student Services,” Davison said. “The committee believed bringing them together under a single coordinated approach would benefit students the most."

The committee also called for an electronic platform for all CMU advisers to use.

Colleges and departments

Committee I, the academic structure committee, reviewed the organization of colleges and departments.

The committee recommended: 

College of Communication and Fine Arts

Dividing the Department of Communication and Dramatic Arts into a Department of Communication and a Department of Dance and Theatre. 

• Move the Department of Communication to the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences. 

• Creating a Department of Integrative Public Relations.

College of Education and Human Services

• Creating a School of Education that would house a Department of Teacher Education and Professional Development and a Department of Educational Leadership.

• Requiring all faculty members who teach education methods courses to have a formal affiliation with the School of Education, regardless of department. Music Education is excluded.

• Dividing the Department of Human Environmental Studies into three smaller, more cohesive departments: a Department of Fashion, Interiors and Design; a Department of Human Development and Family Studies; and a Department of Food and Nutrition, which would be transferred to the College of Health Professions.

• Disbanding the Department of Counseling and Special Education. Counseling would join the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and Special Education would join the Department of Teacher Education and Professional Development.

• Creating a Center for Administration and Leadership Studies, which would house the Master of Science in Administration and three undergraduate programs: Integrated Leadership Studies, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Administration and Bachelor of Science in Community Development.

College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences

• Changing the college's name to Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

• Considering the creation of a Department of Neuroscience for the undergraduate and graduate programs.

College of Health Professions

• Creating a Department of Physical Therapy.

• Incorporating Gerontology faculty into the School of Health Sciences. Gerontology is currently housed in the College of Education and Human Services.

• Creating and bringing in the Food and Nutrition Department from CEHS.

College of Science and
Engineering

• Dividing the Department of Mathematics to create a Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science.

• Creating a Division of Engineering and Informatics, which would house the School of Engineering and Technology, the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science.

• Creating a Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

The College of Business Administration and College of Medicine had no suggested changes.

Get involved

There are several ways for the community to still get involved in the review process, Davison said. He suggested: 

• Completing an anonymous survey on the Academic Organizational Review webpage on the CMU website. Participants can fill out the survey as many times as they like. To increase clarity and effectiveness, participants are asked to fill out a separate survey for each proposal they provide feedback on.

• Contacting Davison or any committee members by email or in person. The names of all committee members are available on the AOR webpage.

• Attending feedback sessions, which will take place Feb. 7 and 8 in Bovee University Center Terrace Room A. Sessions will be limited to 24 attendees (12 faculty, six staff and six students). All interested attendees must RSVP to Christy Fultz at fultz1c@cmich.edu and indicate their top three session preferences and whether they’re are a student, staff or faculty member. Sessions will be facilitated by Carol Cartwright, former president of Kent State University and Bowling Green State University. 

“(Cartwright’s) job is to solicit feedback and relay that to the committee,” Davison said. “We brought in an outside person, so attendees can focus not on the recommendations.”

Next steps

Committees will collect feedback from the campus community and revise their recommendations accordingly.

Changes regarding colleges and departments must be voted on by all colleges and departments before implementation. Davison said departments will vote first, colleges two weeks later, and the Academic Senate will vote April 10. Changes suggested by all committees will be discussed at the board of trustees meetings in June. 

The board of trustees will cast the final votes before implementation.

There are no recommendations regarding the Counseling Center, but the committees are open to suggestions.

“We didn’t feel we were in a position to do that,” Davison said. “We will be working through the rest of the semester to get a deeper understanding of the issues students have regarding the Counseling Center.

“It’s clear from what students are telling us, there are serious challenges. The committee needs a deeper understanding of what those challenges are. There’s tremendous enthusiasm from the committees to be a part of the solution.”

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