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New colleges scramble to redefine themselves

February 18th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Chris Romriell

LOGAN—What comes next for the departments, faculty, staff and students who will make up the new college of social sciences and humanities?

With the departure of Yolanda Flores Niemann departure as dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and the creation of two new colleges in its place, both new units are focusing on how to define and “brand” themselves.

Niemann, who has been HASS dean since 2008, announced in January that she will step down at the end of her current contract on June 30. Hurry-up searches to identify and appointment two new deans for a college of fine arts, and a college of social science/humanities are under way, and the central administration has said the “founding deans” will be named by March 15.

The new college that will include the departments in the social sciences (journalism & communication, political science, and sociology/social work/anthropology) and the humanities (English, history, and languages/philosophy/speech communication) doesn’t even know yet what its name will be.

“Obviously, we can be the College of H-S-S or S-S-H,” said Ted Pease, interim department head of JCOM, “but this also is an opportunity to redefine and ‘rebrand’ ourselves in an entirely new configuration and new direction.”

The main goals after a new dean is named will be to engage the faculty, staff and students in the new college to set directions that will help define the new, smaller college. Even after the split, the “HSS” college will still be the largest on campus in terms of fulltime faculty and students.

For students, Pease said, the new college may also mean a more focused new core curriculum. “I’d like to see ways for departments and disciplines to work more closely together,” he said. “That’s a work-in-progress.”

The new deans will be selected from among full professors in each of the new colleges. There are approximately 38 senior professors in the humanities and social sciences departments, and about 12 full professors in the arts who would qualify to be dean candidates.

President Stan Albrecht has said he elected to select the new deans from among internal candidates so that both new colleges can hit the ground running. Internal candidates may have more credibility with the faculty and be in a better position to lead, he said.

“This is an exciting time for faculty, staff and students in the humanities and social sciences,” the president said. “It is a unique opportunity for you to help define, shape and create a new academic college.”

The new administrators will have their work cut out for them, various faculty say. Not only will they need to pull together new colleges, but the economic crisis that resulted in about $3.5 million cut from the College of HASS last year isn’t over, and more cuts to the university’s overall budget are coming.

State revenues for the coming year are now $50 million less than expected, government leaders announced Tuesday. Although that shortfall is more as bad as some lawmakers expected, it still means that the Utah Legislature will decide between now and March what it will mean for USU’s budget.


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  1. One Response to “New colleges scramble to redefine themselves”

  2. By Dale Cressman on Feb 22, 2010

    Ted Pease for dean of S-H-H !

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