Workgroup No.9 talks feedback, potential topics

Cassie Buchman, News Editor


Workgroup No.9, Academic Visioning II, discussed some of the potential topics it will bring up in its final report and how they will present it at its meeting Monday.

Feedback the group received during town hall meetings and surveys will be in the appendix of the report.

Workgroup chair Melinda Mueller, a political science professor, said the group will also refer to this feedback throughout its report as it explains why it made the recommendations it did.

According to a survey put together from the first town hall meeting the group had, there is strong support for changing the university’s website, and 41 percent of people who took the survey expressed support for reorganizing into five colleges. There was a lack of support for reorganizing into four colleges, Mueller said.

Survey results from the town hall will help guide the group on what preferences people have, Mueller said.

“We’ll explain in the report, these are the options we’ve considered, and this is one we would think we would recommend and here are the costs and benefits of that, because there’s no perfect system out there,” she said.

She said it would not be a formal cost/benefit analysis, but with each proposal the group would talk about the pros and cons to the suggestions.

The Workgroup would probably talk about all of the recommendations and suggestions in the report, Mueller said, but point out the ones it supports.

Some Workgroup members brought up the concern that there were not enough people who answered the survey to constitute a representative sample of the faculty.

“It’s representative of the people who wanted to reply to the survey,” Richard England, dean of the Honors College, said.

However, Mueller said with these surveys, along with surveys from earlier in the year and the contact the group has already had with department chairs, the Workgroup will get a picture of what to do.

The Organization subcommittee took some ideas from the survey and the feedback and used it to make a list of ideas.

Mueller suggested that the Organization subcommittee make its recommendations based on a timeline.

“Some things we still have to sort out,” she said.

Mueller said some suggestions, such as changing the website, could be done during the summer.

Others, like the “university college” model the group discussed, would be postponed, especially as the group still needs to look into it and is still “up in the air” as to what it might look like, she said.

For one suggestion, Mueller said if the university wanted a College of Health and Human Services, it would need to obtain the funding to support it.

“If the sentiment is we should have a separate college, maybe we could seek out donor support, or some sort of efficiency to create that, if that would be the case,” she said.

Mueller said one thing that had come up several times in communications was that there is overlap in some academic departments.

“Maybe what we need to do next year is sort that out,” Muller said. “…That doesn’t mean getting rid of departments, we want to figure out how to do it better.”

Regarding consolidation, Mueller said the group had not been given a whole lot of resources to look into it.

England said when thinking about reorganizing, the question he had is about what academic work is being done.

“If we are going to change structures, who’s going to do this work?” he asked.

Mueller said the group could put language in their report that along with interdisciplinary connections that departments that could have a dialogue about consolidation, but she was not sure it would go anywhere.

Austin Cheney, chair of the technology department, said this was more of an administrative review and decision.

“We haven’t really looked at that,” he said. “To put out a recommendation at this point that’s specific is silly and people would be upset. There would be no positive to it.”

The Workgroup’s final report is due April 15.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].