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An update on the Academic Realignment plan

A proposed reorganization of several CLAS and CPS departments is expected to strengthen academic offerings and help raise program profiles.

By Lindsey Coulter

September 10, 2020

Butterfly sculpture in Science BuildingAt the Sept. 3 meeting of the Metropolitan State University of Denver Board of Trustees’ Academic and Student Success Committee, Bill Henry, Ph.D., interim provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, presented an update on the Academic Realignment. The effort to realign departments into functional units within the existing college structures is intended to increase interdisciplinary alignment, improve administrative structures and promote disciplinary identity, focusing on the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the College of Professional Studies.

Key changes proposed in the realignment plan include the formation of two new divisions within the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences: the Division of Mathematics and Sciences and the Division of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities. The College of Professional Studies would also see a name change to the College of Health and Applied Sciences, which would also have two divisions. In this arrangement, the Criminal Justice and Criminology and Journalism and Media Production departments would move to the CLAS.

The realignment of academic departments has long been a topic of conversation on the MSU Denver campus. Throughout her 2017 listening tour with faculty, staff and students, President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., noted that realignment as a means of leveling academic loads, better reflecting and marketing the University’s mission, increasing enrollment and retention, and supporting individual departments’ grant-writing and development efforts was a recurring theme. 

The proposed realignment is the result of a monthslong data-gathering process by the President’s Advisory Council on Academic Excellence and Student Success, which conducted interviews, surveys and focus groups with deans, chairs and directors as well as with faculty, staff and students. Comments and feedback were further studied in a design-thinking workshop and in a deep dive with Davidson.

Henry said focusing on a strategic reorganization of the CLAS and the College of Professional Studies was most effective as they are the University’s largest academic units.

“Realigning existing departments within CLAS and CPS will give departments greater structural coherence, improve resource-sharing and streamline course offerings as well as administrative operations,” Henry said.

He also pointed to the success realized by the now-School of Education and now-School of Hospitality, both of which were previously under the College of Professional Studies umbrella.

“Strategically structuring those departments as stand-alone entities strengthened academic offerings and helped raise program profiles in terms of marketing, messaging and recruitment of both faculty and staff as well as students,” Henry said.

While the current realignment plan will not create any new colleges or schools, the reorganization could lend itself to future diversification of academic structures. Watch the Early Bird for more developments as the project progresses.


Important Note: The President’s Advisory Council on Academic Excellence and Student Success (CAESS) that was involved in the realignment exploration, is different from the current CAESS. Though the groups share the same name, the membership and leadership was switched out in January 2019. The new group, co-chaired by Kristy Lyons and Sean Petranovich, was tasked with focusing on retention and has been exploring ways for the university to foster student persistence through to graduation. You can read about the new CAESS group’s work here:


Topics: Academic Realignment, Academics

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