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Montemagno releases second draft of plan for SIU

 
Dustin Duncan
dduncan@carbondaletimes.com
updated: 11/24/2017 10:45 AM

SIU-C Chancellor Carlo Montemagno has released the second draft of his "revitalizing academic programs" proposal on the chancellor's website.

In a video and transcript on the website, the chancellor said his office has heard from hundreds of individuals.

"Faculty have provided the most input, but we have also heard from staff, students, alumni, community members and others," Montemagno said.

He said while individuals may have agreed or disagreed with aspects of the proposal, there was one common theme throughout the feedback: the need for change.

Under the second draft, all departments will still be eliminated and programs will be established in newly created colleges and schools.

Although there have been several complaints with the first proposal, Montemagno was sure to address departments and department chairs. He said he understands the importance of maintaining disciplinary identity around academic programs.

"But for multiple reasons, our current structure is holding us back from making necessary change. In many departments, we have too few faculty to fulfill all of the required service responsibilities," he said. "Budget cuts have pushed many chairs into responsibilities once undertaken by others."

He said small budgets feed duplicate efforts across multiple departments, which is causing the university to spend too much time and money on administration and not enough time on teaching and research.

"Adding to this challenge are outdated ways that our departments function, limiting innovation and collaboration, particularly around efforts to create multidisciplinary programs, team-teach and co-mentor students," he said. "There is no blame to be laid here. It happened over time on the watch of many people and reflects, in part, the way universities typically operate.

"Our own inefficiencies have been exacerbated by state budget challenges and enrollment decline."

Montemagno said he's not opposed to chairs in all departments, but he is opposed to the inefficiencies of an overly large academic administrative structure that lacks the flexibility to support change.

"We can address this by streamlining the number of administrative positions by eliminating the role of department chair," he said. "To comply with existing policies and collective bargaining agreements, this means that we cannot use the term 'department,' which has a very specific meaning tied to having department chairs."

He said the elimination of the role of department chair also creates significant resources the university can invest in its people and programs. Instead of the word "department," he used the term "division."

As for the changes in the placement of programs, the five colleges proposed for change include the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the College of Business and Analytics, the College of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Applied Technology, the College of Health and Human Services, and the College of Social Sciences, Humanities, Media and Arts.

One of the changes to the College of Social Sciences, Humanities, Media and Arts would be the newly proposed School of Homeland Security. The school would consist of degrees such as criminology and criminal justice, fire safety management, information systems technology, political science, public safety, cybersecurity, forensic sciences and pre-law.

"First, we are persuaded by the argument that criminology and criminal justice, as well as aspects of the other programs in the school, are founded in the social sciences," Montemagno said. "Further, we see great opportunities here to align the work of the school with other programs in the college, including multicultural programs.

He said he has been meeting with potential donors and funding agencies for this concept and school. He says hs envisions the public safety institute could position SIU as a "national leader" in preparing culturally competent law enforcement professionals.

The Graduate Council and Faculty Senate still need to formally weigh in on the new draft before a final version is released in the spring. The chancellor has said he would like to implement these changes by summer 2018.

To watch the video or read a complete transcript, visit chancellor.siu.edu.