Workgroup No. 9 holds first town hall meeting

Angelica Cataldo, Managing Editor

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Workgroup No. 9, Academic Visioning II, had its first town hall meeting Tuesday evening to present its subcommittees’ recommendations for the reorganization and presentation of academic colleges.

During the presentation, sociology professor Michael Gillespie discussed the possibility of creating a new search engine online for current and future students to easily navigate through the different departments and programs offered at Eastern.

Gillespie showed examples from Ramapo College, which had a search engine that used key words to give students a chance to explore multiple program options.

Workgroup chair Melinda Mueller, a political science professor, education professor Jay Bickford and health studies professor Sheila Simons discussed the reorganization of colleges on campus.

“We want to be really careful and deliberate about doing this,” Mueller said during the presentation.

The discussion led to the consideration of combining certain colleges under one title and one dean, such an arts and sciences college and a business and technologies college.

“This is really a sharing of ideas,” Simons said.

The consolidation of colleges under one dean was met with various feedback.

Many who attended were critical of the idea of not only the possibility of cutting positions, but also the  idea of possibly shortening department chairs’ contracts from 12 months to 11 months.

Their ideas were based off various colleges members of the Workgroup looked at and compared to Eastern’s system.

Although no estimated figures were given during the presentation, education professor Jay Bickford suggested a panel to justify certain positions held by current deans and chairs.

Bickford stressed the point that the ideas in presentation were just recommendations made to possibly save money, renew curriculums and introduce  more interdisciplinary-friendly courses and programs.

“We come here looking for advice,” Bickford said. “This is just a proposal.”

Some faculty also liked the idea of consolidating colleges so they could interact with other departments and share ideas.

Those who attended were encouraged to fill out an online survey so everyone could provide feedback.

Mueller said she was looking forward to seeing what others have to say in the survey.

“I thought the feedback (during the town hall) was useful,” Mueller said. “We get to consider all these arguments.”

English professor Suzie Park, who will be part of the town hall meeting next week, said the main goal of the workgroup was to try and see things from a student’s perspective.

“I think could have emphasized our primary objective more,” Park said. “We want to retain and recruit many new EIU students.”

Park said working on the project was eye-opening and humbling experience in regards to seeing things from a student’s point of view.

The differential tuition subcommittee and variable learning models subcommittee are scheduled to hold their town hall  4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb.28.

Angelica Cataldo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]