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  October 22, 2001

Health-Related Schools to be Restructured

An administrative reorganization of the four health-related schools at the Storrs campus was discussed Oct. 15 at a meeting of the University Senate.

Chancellor John Petersen told the Senate the move will allow the schools - pharmacy, allied health, nursing, and family studies - to increase efficiency and productivity by "bundling similar administrative programs." The deans, with input from faculty and staff, will identify cost-saving measures, with all savings being "directed back into the programs to add needed faculty and improve program quality."

Petersen added that the new arrangement, administering the four schools as one division, could create other benefits, such as enabling the UConn Foundation to better use its staff to support the new, larger health care division. Currently, he said, the four schools are too small for the Foundation to staff each school independently with a constituent fund raiser.

"These four schools are vital to the University and to the economy and well being of the state of Connecticut," Petersen said. "There is a need for more faculty in the School of Pharmacy. There is a nursing shortage in Connecticut and we must play a role in easing that. Our School of Allied Health turns away good applicants annually. And the School of Family Studies, with increasing enrollments, must be brought into the mix, so they can contribute their expertise in the public policy arena. The restructuring will allow us to focus on and bring new resources to all the schools."

Petersen said the reorganization will not lead to staff cuts, although some savings may be found through attrition. Some workers may be moved to new areas, but he assured the Senate that any relocations would take place on the Storrs campus.

"This may require some administrative and staff adjustments, but we're being very careful not to do anything counter productive. This is not a merger. The schools will retain curricular and PTR autonomy. It is an administrative restructuring that will allow us to make the best use of the resources we have," he said.

The move to reorganize the health-related schools follows a national trend to bring schools and colleges in the health fields closer together. Each of the schools has a similar mission - educating and training health-related professionals. Putting them under the same umbrella will offer a range of efficiencies and enhance interdisciplinary studies and research.

Petersen said the administration and the four deans have been discussing the reorganization since the beginning of the semester. Ultimately, budgets and other decisions regarding the division will be coordinated by the deans, with one of the four named director of the group. The division will make overall budget allocations, but decisions on expenditures will remain within the individual schools.

"The model we're looking at will only change how we bundle the administrative and academic programs in order to make them more efficient," said Petersen. "Increasingly, health care is taking a more holistic approach, becoming more interdepartmental. The reorganization will put us in position to respond to that new dynamic."

Faculty, staff, and administrators will continue discussing how best to build the new division throughout the academic year, Petersen said, with the changes expected to take effect July 1.

The Senate also approved a motion to create a "Quasi Committee of the Whole" to discuss a proposal for changing the University's general education requirements. By creating the committee, several standing Senate procedural rules can be eased, allowing a more broad-based discussion of the proposal. The package of changes, which has been divided into three sections to make the sweeping proposal more manageable, will be discussed during a special meeting starting at

4 p.m. Oct. 29 in Bishop Center.

Richard Veilleux

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