Academic reorganization begins at Keene State

KSC PROVOST JAMES BEEBY ANNOUNCED MAJOR REORGANIZATION OF ACADEMIC AFFAIRS

Photo Credit: Tom Benoit

On the evening of March 25, Beeby sent an email to KSC faculty outlining updates and announcements to the college’s current academic reorganization following a meeting with all department chairs. 

 

KEEPING THE TWO SCHOOL STRUCTURE

KSC will keep its two-school structure. 

The college will continue with a School of Arts, Education and Humanities and a School of Science, Sustainability and Health. 

Citing the decrease in enrollment and KSC’s budget challenges, Beeby explained that part of this academic reorganizing is to deal with the effects of the enrollment drop as well as reducing “administrative burden” and costs.

Beeby said the continuation of the two-school model is supported by the three incumbent deans.

Beeby explained that each school will have a dean and an associate dean, but there will no longer be an assistant dean in either school. This means Dr. Mike Walsh (current Assistant Dean of Assistant Science, Sustainability and Health) and Dr. Greg Knouff (current Assistant Dean of Arts, Education and Humanities) will return to full-time teaching for the next academic year. 

“I would like to thank Dr. Mike Welsh and Dr. Greg Knouff for their excellent service as Assistant Deans, they have been exemplars of servant leaders in their respective roles. In addition, the expectation is that deans will teach a course each year,” Beeby said in the email.

Beeby announced that Sandy will return to teaching, and an internal search for a new dean will begin “very soon.” 

Under the School of Arts, Education and Humanities, there will be a Division of Educator Preparation.

 “This will be a semi-autonomous Unit with an Associate Dean of Educator Preparation, who will collaborate with the Dean of the School,” Beeby explained. 

Beeby said this is in place of a department chair, and the Childhood Development Center will report directly to the Associate Dean of Educator Preparation.  

Beeby explained he looked at several models, and considered the positives and negatives of each.

“I also took time to read the Committee to Align Vision and Structure (CAVS) report of 2017 and talked with some of our colleagues who served on that committee about what was intended and what was in fact decided, and I also got a sense of the past and how things used to be structured, academically, at Keene State College,” Beeby said. 

“I have listened very carefully to the thoughts, comments, and opinions of colleagues across the College over the past six months, and especially since January. I spent quite some time talking with the deans, too, to hear directly from them about their thoughts and how they see the future,” Beeby said. 

Beeby also announced the formation of the Provost Council, and that there will be changes in reporting within Academic Affairs, “to streamline the work, create efficiencies and reduce bureaucracy; and those are still being worked through at this time. My hope is to have all those pieces in place by May, ready for the new academic year,” Beeby said in the email. 

 

“CHAIRS ARE DOING EXTRAORDINARY WORK, BUT…”

Beeby said the next stage of the reorganization process is to reorganize academic departments. 

About a month ago, Beeby asked faculty, department chairs and academic deans to work on this reorganization. 

“My intention is to create more synergies between academic programs and be strategic in our focus, reduce the number of departments, especially those that are small and not really tenable going forward, and return more full-time faculty to the classroom. This is a strategic priority,” Beeby said. 

Beeby said he along with faculty, deans and department chairs would work on the roles and responsibilities of department chairs, and this would be negotiated with KSC’s faculty union, “as it should be.”

“My belief is that Chairs are doing extraordinary work, but we need to be more focused and we need to cut down on bureaucracy and ‘busy work’ and have our excellent faculty teaching and producing research and creative work,” Beeby said. 

Beeby said he strongly believes he should not recognize departments by “fiat,” but rather if departments focused on what “makes sense strategically for [departments] and the college, and for possible future collaboration,” Beeby said. 

 

THE MERGE

KSC currently has 28 academic departments on campus. Beeby said he hopes to reduce this number by 50%. Beeby does not have a set number, but this is the target. 

In addition, departments with fewer than five full-time faculty “should be looking” to join another department. 

“A few smaller departments might continue but they will be the exception, for extenuating circumstances, and not the norm.” Beeby said.

Beeby noted that some departments have many adjunct professors, so the 50% number is not set in stone, but rather the parameter.

According to the email, departments and faculty have spent the last month discussing these merges. The email said that these decisions have a deadline of April 15 so that chairs can be elected. 

“After April 15th we can then work on codifying the changes and beginning to make the necessary changes. All new departments will require administrative approval from Academic Affairs. Thank you,” Beeby wrote. 

“My intention is to create more synergies between academic programs and be strategic in our focus, reduce the number of departments, especially those that are small and not really tenable going forward, and return more full-time faculty to the classroom,” Beeby wrote. 

In bold, Beeby said, “Current programs will continue—all of them. All are critical to the mission of Keene State College.” 

The email also said that current department budgets will continue as they are, curriculum primacy will remain with the program and no other program can veto the curriculum of another program, which will be codified. 

“Now it maybe that two or more programs that combine might create a new academic program or curriculum from synergies within the unit, that is fine and would be welcomed, of course,” Beeby said. 

Beeby believes that the reorganization work will reduce the administrative burden and more of the college’s full-time faculty will return to the classroom. “This will help to raise the primacy of the academic program,” which is critical to the college, Beeby said. 

Finally, Beeby said he has kept the two school structures, departments and chairs because they are important to academic integrity as well as the reputation of the college and “make good sense.” 

“It is also far less disruptive, keeps teams in place and will enable more collaboration and synergies across campus It will also reduce costs and help us to move towards a balanced operational budget run rate. This is vital as we look for investments in the campus going forward,” Beeby said. 

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