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Trustees approve plan to reconfigure three schools

by Karen A. Grava - February 6, 2006

The Board of Trustees approved last week an academic restructuring plan that reconfigures the Schools of Allied Health and Family Studies and the College of Continuing Studies but strengthens the programs they offer.

The plan, proposed by Provost Peter J. Nicholls, will not eliminate any academic programs. It is designed to allow the programs to take advantage of resources and collaborations in their new settings.

Faculty from the School of Family Studies will form a new department within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, while the physical therapy department of the School of Allied Health will become part of the Neag School of Education. The Department of Applied Health Sciences and Health Promotion of the School of Allied Health will become part of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Faculty have voted to rename that department the Department of Allied Health Sciences.

Faculty and advisors in allied health and family studies are working to ensure a smooth transition for students in terms of requirements and courses. The reconfiguration takes effect on July 1.

“The reconfiguration will make the programs less vulnerable to budget cuts, will provide new opportunities for cross-departmental collaborations and outreach, and will provide more effective oversight and more proportional representation on University’s governance bodies,” Nicholls said.

The consolidation also provides for fewer high-level administrative positions and will increase opportunities for students to finish in four years.

As part of the plan, said Nicholls, family studies will be assigned two new faculty positions and the budget for the program will not be reduced for five years.

Under the plan, the College of Continuing Studies, which does not have a tenured faculty, will be reconstituted as a division, reporting to the vice provost for undergraduate education and regional campus administration. This will provide a strengthened academic foundation for the popular Bachelor of General Studies program and will benefit degree offerings at the regional campuses, Nicholls said.

The registrar, bursar, and marketing arm of the college will be coordinated with the University-wide units, while summer and intersession programs will become the responsibility of the vice provost for undergraduate education and regional campus administration.

“The academic goal is to offer programs throughout the year to make it as easy as possible for students to complete their degrees in four years,” Nicholls said.

Non-credit course offerings will be reviewed in the context of non-credit offerings at Connecticut State University and the community colleges, “in order to see how UConn can best meet the needs of our state,” he added.

“Compared to peer and aspirant institutions, UConn’s many independent schools and colleges have reduced institutional effectiveness and efficiency,” said Nicholls.

“The restructuring will address the problems of quality control, efficiency, effectiveness, consistency, and stability, but will have no negative impact on programs, faculty, staff, and students.”

Several speakers at the trustees’ meeting said the plan was not discussed enough, although the reallocation of programs has been debated for more than 15 years.

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