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Next steps in the realignment discussion

Potential University realignment models are being discussed, and department feedback is encouraged.

By Lindsey Coulter

September 20, 2018

University realignment chartAt the Academic Affairs/Student Affairs Fall 2018 Assembly on Sept. 19, Provost Vicki Golich, Ph.D., and Jeff Loats, Ph.D., director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design, presented the findings of a five-month data-gathering process around the question, “Should (Metropolitan State University of Denver’s) academic departments be realigned to better level the loads and best reflect and market our mission? If so, how?”

It’s a big question, and the President’s Advisory Council on Academic Excellence and Student Success has collected a lot of data and a wide variety of answers via interviews, surveys and focus groups conducted with deans, chairs and directors as well as faculty, staff and students.

Before diving into data, however, Golich answered a more foundational question: Why realign in the first place?

Realignment was a repeated theme throughout President Janine Davidson’s campus listening tour, and a variety of similar issues were raised in discussions with the Advisory Council.

According to Loats, faculty and staff had similar patterns in their appetites for change. About 25 percent supported significant realignment, about 50 percent recommended minor change, and 15 percent suggested no change.

Responses to the data-collection efforts numbered in the thousands, but a few themes did emerge:

  • Resource-distribution problems with the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
  • Collaboration between and across faculty and staff.
  • Fundraising and clear identity.
  • Haphazard programs and departments developed within traditional structures.
  • Grouping departments.

These ideas were further examined in a design-thinking workshop and a deep dive with President Davidson and ultimately boiled down to four potential realignment options:

Proposal 1: Maintain the University’s current college structure but create three schools within the existing CLAS (59 percent endorsed/41 percent opposed in voting within the CAESS).

Proposal 2: Expand the College of Education (48 percent endorsed/52 percent opposed).

Proposal 3: Five colleges – four balanced colleges with a separate College of Hospitality, Events and Tourism (66 percent endorsed/34 percent opposed).

Proposal 4: Seven colleges – six smaller colleges with a separate College of HEAT (79 percent endorsed/21 percent opposed)

Proposal details and other recommendations are outlined in more detail on the council’s Sharepoint page. The “June Report” is the most recent overall summary document, which was shared at the Assembly.

A visual map of how the University might transition first to a five-college model and then evolve to a seven-college model was presented.

In the second half of the Assembly, each table was asked to work on one or both of the following questions: First, what does the council need to ask of departments before making any moves forward; second, what questions does the council need to ask of Student Services units before making any moves forward?

The discussion generated dozens of possible questions, all of which were captured. A final list of questions will be sent out soon, and responses must be returned to Provost Golich by Nov. 16.

Before breaking into table groups to discuss these questions, several attendees raised questions about how any potential realignment would be financed, as proposals 1-3 are cost-neutral but proposal 4 would have an annual cost of $750,000 to $1 million per new dean’s office. Golich said realignment into smaller colleges could increase enrollment and retention while also supporting grant writing and development efforts. As a 1 percent increase in enrollment adds about $800,000 in revenue, a realignment that increases visibility could potentially pay for itself, Golich said, adding, “We are fully aware of resource concerns and constraints.”

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