Workgroup members analyze possible administration structures

Kalyn Hayslett, Editor-in-Chief

Workgroup No. 9, academic visioning II, talked about restructuring and even consolidating some administrative positions at their meeting Wednesday.

During the meeting, group members reported how several in-state and out-of-state universities structure their academic colleges, departments and schools.

Workgroup chair Melinda Mueller, a political science professor, looked at Indiana State University and noticed the large amount of administrative personnel who are employees in the academic departments.

“I do not necessarily view it as an administration model, but we look very lean and efficient compared to them in a lot of ways,” she said.

The other members agreed that the amount of administrative personnel Eastern has is not as large as Indiana State; however, they said there are positions that could be consolidated.

Education professor Jay Bickford said it is important to keep the financial expenses in mind when looking at administrative structures.

“As much as we talk about what is ideal and the possibilities, the bottom line is there is a bottom line and based on the data I’ve been reading, we have a high proportion of admin(istrators) compared to our students and our faculty,” he said.

The members talked about proposing a new administrative structure.

“Maybe they are going to set a limit on exactly how many chairs, associate deans and deans we have,” Bickford said. “Maybe we can present an organizational model, but there is a darn good chance that anything we think is ideal would be overlooked when it comes to dollars and cents.”

Mueller said it can be tricky when determining a limit or consolidation because some areas already have a low amount of administrators while other areas have plenty.

“It’s like there is an imbalance in some cases,” she said.

Austin Cheney, chair of the technology department, said members should not only be concerned about how academic areas are losing money or costing money but also how they are earning or making money.

“I know we have budget issues because that is the current state we are in, but what I don’t want us to do is make structural decisions based on cost,” Cheney said. “We need to think about revenue generation on the other side.”

Mueller said one suggestion by department chairs given was creating smaller, more concentrated departments.

“It’s a crucial issue of where can we save but also where does it make sense in regards to low enrollment,” Mueller said.

Cheney said if there were a number of academic departments that were more narrowly focused, the university could eliminate the associate deans positions.

The members agreed the overall themes of their suggestions are to keep a similar academic structure while implementing consolidation efforts.

Before any suggestions are finalized, the members want to assess student perceptions on administrative roles as well as continue to look at other universities’ academic structures.

Health studies professor Sheila Simons analyzed Illinois State University. Illinois State’s College of Arts and Sciences has 18 departments, schools and units, which include economics, psychology, history, and women’s and gender studies.

“It makes sense, but the College of Arts and Sciences is massive. I was shocked how big it was,” she said.

The members noticed a trend that in large universities the College of Arts and Sciences is bigger.

The All Workgroup is meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30 in Room 1255 of Coleman Hall.

 

Kalyn Hayslett can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]