UNCW looks to divide arts and sciences, faculty cautious of consequences – Port City Daily


The UNCW faculty senate met on Tuesday to discuss the implications of dividing the particular College associated with Art and Sciences into two colleges. (Port City Daily/Brenna Flanagan)

WILMINGTON — UNCW’s largest college is going through a divorce.  

Come July 2023, the College of Arts plus Sciences is set in order to split in two — one college for science, technology, engineering and math fields, the other for artistry, humanities and social sciences.

A change to the College of Arts and Sciences structure could have far-reaching implications. It will impact educational programs offered by the university — affecting the skillsets with which graduates enter the workforce — along with community engagement to surrounding areas.  

With UNCW’s recent designation as a high research activity, or R2, college, the realignment could help expand the capacity associated with research programs. To be considered an R2 high-research activity institution, the university must have awarded at least 20 study or scholarship doctoral degrees and had at least $5 million in total research expenditures per year.

Dividing the particular programs in to two schools — under two deans with more time to dedicate to each program — could promote the expansion of analysis initiatives in UNCW. However , some faculty are concerned more opportunities and funding may be funneled towards the STEM college, putting the arts on the back burner.  

Among requests sent to 24 professors from UNCW, Department of Communication Studies Chair Rick Olsen was the only arts plus humanities professor to respond. He contextualized the tension encircling this issue.  

“I think the particular pressure that is being put on the administration is, ‘Please do R2 and this university restructuring within a way that will be humane for the people that are going to participate, ’” he said.    

University leadership claims no programs will be left behind.  

Leading the charge to create two new colleges has been Provost James Winebrake, who said CAS’s sheer size is problematic. It has more than double the particular students of the three other colleges on campus in students and employees.  

Winebrake claims dividing CAS will expand the capability of college leadership and allow every program more representation among donors plus resources. This individual added it will also form a better sense associated with community for both ORIGINATE and the arts, humanities and social sciences.

“It’s about looking at brand new opportunities; it’s about solving problems, ” Winebrake said. “I think there are great possibilities for UNCW to advance the particular work we do, the work the teachers do, and the impact that we have on the community in positive ways. There’s an opportunity to expand that footprint, and this will allow us to do that. ”

(Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands Williams)

First steps

The topic of splitting the university, which was formed in 1979, has been on the table for a lot more than a decade.

The College of Arts plus Sciences is usually made up of 5, 800 college students and 800 faculty and staff. Its dean oversees the most programs — 43 undergraduate degrees, 60 minors, 12 pre-professional applications, 25 master’s degrees plus three doctoral programs, plus the Gender Studies and Research Center. CAS’s programs contribute in order to 227, 000 credit hours per academic year, comprising 65% associated with all hrs awarded.

“It’s one of the largest colleges I’ve ever seen, ” stated Johan Hattingh, chair of the Department associated with Mathematics plus Statistics. He has worked with UNCW since 2020, but also taught on Clemson, Georgia State, and most recently, East Carolina College.  

Winebrake, who moved into his position as provost in 2020, said CAS’s size was discussed many times throughout his first semester at UNCW. This prompted him to charge the particular interim CAS dean at the time, Rich Ogle, with exploring options with regard to restructuring.  

Ogle —  who remaining in June 2021 after accepting the position at California State University — created the CAS Organization Committee with eight other college stakeholders to analyze four structure scenarios: no change, a divisional method within CAS, two schools, and multiple colleges. The particular committee gained input within early 2021 through the survey completed by 17 department chairs and directors.  

The report has been presented in order to the provost in March 2021. It states the particular “majority of voices expressed no desire to significantly change the structure associated with CAS, ” proving the college’s large size is definitely not necessarily a good indicator of dysfunction.  

Olsen, also a member of the particular CAS Business Committee, mentioned he had been originally opposed to the idea.  

“To be honest, I was an early detractor because of the administrative overhead, ” he said. “But as I looked at the models, and I looked over the data, and our own internal leadership challenges, the particular way the college offers grown, especially in grad applications and specialized programs — I’ve landed on maybe it’s time to do something. ” 

Part of that will data came from examining UNCW’s peer universities, which include UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, East Carolinan University, plus North Carolina A& T. Among these some other R2 educational institutions, UNCW’s University of Artistry and Sciences is an anomaly.  

Each of the particular other schools has a College of Arts and Sciences, but with a smaller number of departments compared to UNCW. Nevertheless , the colleges also have other colleges dedicated to both science and the artistry. For example, UNC Greensboro houses the College associated with Visual plus Performing Artistry and a School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, together with its College of Arts and Sciences.  

Restructuring UNCW’s CAS below the current plan would still be a standout compared to peer institutions; none group all the arts and almost all the sciences into two colleges. However, a similar structure is not unheard of; each Grand Canyon University plus The University or college of Tennessee made changes to their CAS in recent years.

Other colleges have similar breakaway universities for business, education and health sciences like UNCW’s three additional colleges — the Watson College associated with Education, Cameron School of Business, College of Health and Human Services. Restructuring CAS might bring the two schools to a better numerical balance. The colleges have faculty ratios associated with 61, 42, and 146, respectively, while CAS provides 441 teachers members. This also has three times as many direct reports, 32, to the dean, whereas another schools only have 10 or 11.  

The particular high quantity of direct reports and a wide array of disciplines can put a strain on CAS’s interim dean Michelle Scatton-Tessier, who was unavailable for an interview. She  should possess the knowledge and period to advocate for donations, organize fundraising and manage the exercise of all 25 from the college’s departments.  

Winebrake clarified the regrouping was not a reflection of any dean’s leadership; this individual said she has done tremendous work leading the college.  

Robert Burrus, leader of the particular Cameron School of Business, told Slot City Every day he has been impressed along with the management of CAS for successfully representing so many different fields.  

“But it is a lot of heavy lifting to try to figure out what just about all the specific needs are usually that you can take and move to donors, ” Burrus stated. “A lot of the donors just believe they want to help out, and you got to be very specific about how they could do that. ”

(Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands Williams)

Gaining attention 

A few months right after the committee’s initial report was submitted, a faction representing a few CAS departments raised their own voices in order to advocate for a new college. They indicated they didn’t feel supported by the current model.  

Leaders of the computer science, mathematics and statistics, data technology, physics plus engineering programs submitted the proposal regarding a College of Computing and Engineering. In the particular memo, faculty members stated “too many” direct reviews, program growth, as well as the need for a larger collective voice and campus visibility justified a new college.  

“CEE offers common educational goals and computational infrastructure requirements that are not adequately backed in the current CAS organizational design, ” the particular memo states.

Physics teacher Liping Gan concurred with its assessment.

“Most of the college committee members were dominated by faculties from arts, humanities, social sciences for the past many years, ” she mentioned. “Our voices have been buried within a huge background. ”

In response to the particular memo, Winebrake formed a task force in January 2022 to explore a separate university for applications that asked for it. The group found that will a college makeup with only those departments might be too narrow a focus.  

Winebrake charged a new panel — the CAS Leadership Council, made up of each department chair — to construct two new colleges. The goal had been to develop the framework intended for implementing the particular transition.

University one would consist of anthropology, art plus art history, communication studies, creative writing, English, film studies, background, international research, music, philosophy and religion, public and international affairs, sociology plus criminology, theatre, world languages and cultures, the Sex Studies and Research Middle, graduate liberal studies 

College two would certainly consist associated with biology plus marine biology, chemistry and biochemistry, pc science, earth and ocean sciences, environmental studies, math and data, physics plus physical oceanography (including coastal engineering), psychology, pre-engineering 

Also requested was a list of considerations that should be deliberated moving into the process’s second phase. That includes allocating resources, hiring new staff and gaining formal approval to possess the 2 new colleges operational for that 2023/2024 school year.  

The statement was delivered Oct. twenty-four, and Winebrake presented its 50-plus factors to the particular faculty senate Nov. 15.  

Chief among concerns was divvying up resources. UNCW’s brand new chancellor Aswani Volety, former dean of CAS, mentioned in the report “no unit will have fewer resources than they have now. ”

It also advocates that R2 contributors, including terminal levels and grant money, “should not land exclusively in one college, otherwise it will certainly lead to resource inequality. ”

“There’s certainly been a history — a suspicion, if not really a reality — among numerous college campuses that the sciences get most the money, ” Olsen said. “That is offset a little bit by the reality that science is more expensive. ” 

Olsen explained science is a more visual field, often needing more materials and up-to-date technology. Whereas within arts plus humanities, the onus can be on the particular exploration of ideas, messages, and the human condition; oftentimes, the just space all those things take up is a student’s brain.  

“It’s easier to cover the story of science, on magazine covers plus websites and all of the stuff, ” Olsen said. “It is really, really hard to say, ‘Oh, look in how hard that will student had to think, look from that student thinking. ”

He said the focus is upon arts and humanities scholars to fix that will issue, but the university or college also needs to play a role and spotlight all programs.  

“Neither structure may automatically advance us or even hold us back, ” Olsen stated. “Because, at the end of the day, we’re still going in order to have to do the work at the daily grind level. ”

Mathematics division chair Hattingh told Interface City Everyday he did not foresee the particular divide causing a resource rift between programs. He or she specifically drew from personal experience teaching at Eastern Carolina University.  

“You have two separate deans advocating for your different groups on campus, and We think that just sets us up for more success, more opportunity, and furthermore makes the whole institution much more nimble in reacting to the student requirements, ” he or she said.

ECU is another R2 university organized into a mix of schools and educational institutions. Its University of Arts and Sciences includes chemistry and the field of biology programs, along with history plus English. Other schools are dedicated to communication, music, integrated seaside programs, architectural and technologies.

With less programs to juggle, the two deans from the new colleges will become able in order to dedicate a lot more time bolstering funds for both the arts and sciences, Hattingh posited.  

CAM company school dean Burrus spoke to the particular advantages of representing a smaller cohort, which allows him to have roundtable discussions along with chairs associated with all the business school’s departments.

“Some department chairs tend to be more thoughtful and less upfront with their opinions, ” Burrus said. “So in the smaller device like ours, everybody’s placing their suggestions available, plus we usually agree at the end that we’ll all go down a path together. ”

The various other positive, according to physics professor Gan, is the particular ability to refine branding.

“[It] will help build a good identity for our department based on STEM fields, ” Gan said. “It will attract more high-quality students and faculties to strengthen our program, which will bring more funding plus resources. ”

Departmental budgets, along with faculty tenure and salaries, are not slated to be affected when the schools split, in accordance to Winebrake.  

Yet, UNCW will have to dole away more cash to cover additional staff wages. A new leader and associate dean can need in order to be hired, along with other positions that provide support to academics, such as a communication director, advisors and executive personnel.

Some members of the teachers senate shared concerns during the November meeting that it can end up being hard enough in order to find money for extra positions due to the university’s rapid growth. Winebrake responded that will some would remain discussed between colleges until the new placement could be filled.  

For example , the particular public communication specialist may have to be contributed between the colleges throughout the transition.

There had been also questions raised on space allocations. A second college’s administration might take up a lot more square footage. However , academic departments plus classrooms would certainly still utilize their present spaces, Winebrake noted — no new buildings are included in the restructuring plan.  

Other considerations contained in the statement — diverse staffing, interdisciplinary work across schools, transparency and consistency in employing processes, and competition among colleges — are certainly not exclusive issues to CAS.    

“This restructuring idea is bringing a renewed energy in order to a conversation about chronic under-resourcing campus-wide, ” Olsen said.  

He cited UNCW provides less employees per college student, less classroom square video footage per pupil and much less graduate assistant money compared to its peers.  

“Just name this and we probably have less of it than any of the particular R2 universities within the UNC System — and historically that’s been true” Olsen mentioned.

He added this moment could be an opportunity to address and improve upon university-wide issues plus work because “two of five” schools, rather than competing with each other. Still,   UNCW will need to ensure infrastructure and resources are usually there before expanding applications, he said, and that won’t become solved just by having more people to complete more jobs.  

“What we need is not feeling like we’re shoe-stringing every project, not feeling like we’re tapped out, plus serving on one more committee than we should be, or training five a lot more students because we can’t hire another faculty member to deal with our own demand, ” Olsen stated.  

Moving forward, Olsen mentioned the restructuring can end up being a way to tackle those issues, while keeping the process transparent and open for everyone to be heard.  

Winebrake will continue to meet along with the CAS Leadership Council, the faculty and staff members senates, and UNCW administration to nail down the logistics from the changeover, including particular resource allocation and a plan for management and support services. A search for brand new employees, which includes the dean and connect dean, would begin in the spring.  

As far as the official approval, UNC System President Peter Hans will require to sign off upon any new dean jobs. Once approved, the brand new position will be reported to the UNC board of governors at the next meeting as an informational item.    

The particular UNCW table of trustees will then approve the appointment of an employee into the new dean place.  


Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at  [email protected] com  

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