On March 25, Provost Dr. James Beeby sent an email to KSC faculty detailing an academic reorganization plan..
The plan includes keeping the college’s two-school structure, but will involve a reduction in academic departments, especially the smaller ones that are “not tenable going forward,” Beeby’s email stated. Keene State currently has 28 departments, but Beeby said he hopes to cut this number in half. Beeby said the priority of the reorganization is to return more full-time faculty to the classroom.
The main goal of the academic reorganization is to relieve the “burden” of administrative paperwork so that department chairs can return back to teaching.
After going over what this reorganization means for the campus, The Equinox is against the plan and finds it a decision that wasn’t made with the student body’s best interests in mind.
This kind of reorganization might have the potential to help even out the bigger departments, but it might create turmoil amongst smaller departments that might be swept under the rug in the mass reorganization. Our understanding of this reorganization is that programs will merge so there is a risk that the smaller departments won’t have their proper needs met. There is a concern that the smaller programs will be ignored.
With a reorganization comes the possibility of job elimination of well-liked professors that can snowball morale. Students create relationships with their professors that they rely on to have a quality education and experience on campus. Removing those professors and those relationships can decrease motivation to continue education. Taking jobs from people is also not the best look for the college, seeing they might prioritize the spending and saving of money for the college over quality staff.
Another concern the college should consider is the incoming and prospective students and how this could impact their decision to attend the college. Incoming students might find themselves turning away from the college because they might not have a clear understanding of where their major is, or if their major is going to remain in place during their time at KSC. With the reorganization of the academic departments, there is a high possibility that these overarching titles and groups for the departments can water down the attractive degrees available. If incoming or prospective students don’t see their program at Keene State College, there is a risk that they won’t apply to be an Owl.
KSC is a generally small campus and most students have created a tight knit community amongst their peers. Individual programs have also built long years of culture and bond amongst students, professors and the projects everyone works on to build their major-specific knowledge. The Equinox is concerned that the reorganization will diminish the bond among students and campus.
There is a major benefit that comes with such specialized programs within the college. Students are going to have the highest connection to their major and possible careers from the professors and staff that have lived that life. Being able to have valuable experience and information from professors that have those specialized careers is going to be ultimately beneficial.
As students, we worry about our specializations being swept away in the big umbrella goals of the reorganization. However, as it stands, the reorganization does not intend to change curriculum.
As a smaller liberal arts college, it was assumed there would be a greater want to diversify the academic catalog. There is also concern that the attempted reorganization will remove any benefit that current and future students have within their education communities.
Looking at this reorganization as a student feels like we are standing with blank smiles in a sinking ship, thinking about the future of our programs, our peers and our education.
There needs to be a focus on the curriculum being taught right, because this academic reorganization does not look like a student-centered decision.