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VP for academic affairs addresses questions about reorganizations

April 15, 2003

On April 3,Vice President for Academic Affairs Bruce Speck announced that President Sherry Hoppe had approved his recommendation to make the College of Business a School of Business.

Approval of the recommendation came two years after Speck's initial proposal to convert both the College of Education and the College of Business to schools. The College of Education became the School of Education July 1, 2002.
April 15, 2003

On April 3,Vice President for Academic Affairs Bruce Speck announced that President Sherry Hoppe had approved his recommendation to make the College of Business a School of Business.

Approval of the recommendation came two years after Speck's initial proposal to convert both the College of Education and the College of Business to schools. The College of Education became the School of Education July 1, 2002.

Dr. Stephanie Newport, interim dean of the College of Business, along with most members of the business faculty, opposed the recommendation, saying it would hurt ongoing accreditation efforts. She asked for time to construct a counter-proposal outlining plans to grow the college and obtain accreditation. "We agreed not to change the status of the college for up to three years," Specks says. They would, however, "look at" the situation every year.

The first plan the faculty presented, according to Speck, proposed adding existing Austin Peay programsengineering technology, public management and military scienceto the College of Business.

"That wasn't the approach we wanted to take," Speck says. "We wanted to say, 'How can you take the resources you have and grow, increase your student-credit production?'"

A revised plan proposed adding a bachelor of business administration degree at Fort Campbell, a suggestion Speck approved. Development of that program is now underway.

The second component in a decision to continue the department as a college, achieving accreditation, would require a $1.2 million investment, according to the plan.

"There was just no way we could do that," Speck says.

The required investment was later revised downward to $400,000, but that amount was "still more than we could put up," he says.

Accreditation is a matter of human resources as well as financial resources, Speck says. "I had a faculty in business tell me that one of the reasons we had difficulty [obtaining accreditation] was because we didn't have the kind of scholarly publications needed." Speck says that isn't surprising, given faculty-teaching loads.

"It would be hard to have scholarly publications that would compete with schools that give faculty, say, four hours or six hours released time each year."

Publishing in scholarly journals takes research, and research takes time. "That's why when you look at the cost of accreditation, you're talking about more released time, more adjuncts," he says, both of which cost money.

"The whole accreditation question is a resource question."

There also was concern among students and faculty that the term "School of Business" was less prestigious than College of Business. "It's not clear to me why that's such a big issue," Speck notes. "Two of the most prestigious business education institutionsthe Wharton School and the Harvard Schoolare schools, not colleges."

Speck says he has also heard concerns expressed over lost autonomy, though he doesn't agree with the term. "Linguistically, autonomy means 'self law.' I don't think that's what people mean when they use that term. I think what they mean is they'd like to have a say in the curriculum, in how their lives are organized. I have no problem with that.

"But if they mean they want to rule themselves, there's no such thing at the University. We are a representative government. We have a Faculty Senate that represents the faculty, a Staff Council that represents the staff. There are chairs, deans, representatives at a variety of levels. No unit is a law unto itself."

Students, faculty and external constituencies should see little change from the reorganization. "We're not going to move them; they'll remain in the same building," Speck says. "They'll have the same schedule of classes. We'll hire professors and give them opportunities to compete in terms of FTE.

What has changed, he says, is the title and the position within the University structure. "There will no longer be a dean; there'll be a director. The director will be under the College of Professional Programs and Social Sciences."

Speck says the move "isn't as catastrophic as some people think. It makes sense given our size."

Departmental reorganization also questioned

Along with the approved reorganization of business, Speck has proposed several departmental reorganizations.

One of the most controversial was the merging of sociology and social work. "The argument I've heard is that a merger between social work and sociology is retrogressive. They're probably right, to some extent, because, historically, social work was embedded in sociology. However, the last institution I was at had a sociology department, and social work was embedded in it. But that wasn't considered odd."

The decision to move African American Studies under history also came under fire. "We heard from African American Studies that it was unheard of to put that under history. However, the African American Studies Program is in the history department at ETSU and MTSU. I heard about a gentlemen recently who got his degree from West Point and minored in African American studies, and it was embedded in the history department.

"African American Studies deal with the history of a people. You might say it's larger than history; it deals with culture. But the history department is a perfectly appropriate place to have it."

Speck says keeping the African American Culture Center as part of African American Studies was a modification of the original proposal.

"I thought it should be under student affairs; it seemed the kind of thing student affairs did. But people in the Culture Center and the African American Studies Program said they felt strongly the two should not be separated. So that was a compromise. I tried to give where there was a possibility of giving."

One of the primary goals of both reorganization plans is to save money. "I had people say 'You'll only save a couple thousand dollars by doing that.' But a couple thousand dollars means something given our economic situation.

The other major goal for the reorganization was to improve efficiency. "The College of Arts and Sciences had 70 faculty reporting to one dean," Speck says. "And you had a College of Education with one department and 20 faculty reporting to a deansame with the College of Business. You had what appeared to me to be huge inequities in terms of how work was distributed."

The College of Arts and Sciences had a "very experienced dean, Gaines Hunt," Speck says. "He was ideally suited for the position. And he almost killed himself. I could see, working with him, that it was a tremendous load. So we looked at achieving parity."

Speck says he knows gains in efficiency may be reduced somewhat as people adjust to new responsibilities, and some accommodations will have to be made.

"I wasn't simply trying to cut out expenses and put everything on the backs of faculty. I knew there would need to be adjustment of the workload, possibly some released time."

But, he says, ultimately, faculty and staff may simply need to square their shoulders and reach deep within themselves for resolve.

"We're in a situation where we have to rely on the good will of the people to do the job," Speck says. "It's no longer a situation of 'I'm taking on more work, so you need to pay me more.' We need people who will say, 'Yes, I'll do it. It will stretch me. I'll have to drop something I like to do. But I'll do it.'

"We're really relying on faculty, staff and administration to 'put in the other oar.'"