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EIU TOWN HALL (04/02/18)

Jay Gatrell, Eastern Illinois University vice president for academic affairs, speaks on changes coming to the university at a town hall meeting Monday. 

CHARLESTON -- Eastern Illinois University will be seeing big changes structurally in the next two years.

Jay Gatrell, vice president for academic affairs, announced to a packed crowd of mostly EIU faculty Monday that there will be a major shift in academic organization.

Based on work forged between the university president's council and vitalization project workgroups, EIU is realigning programs and colleges, a move that has not been seen at the university in 25 years.

EIU’s realignment outcomes will include:

-- the creation of a new College of Health and Human Services, which will be home to Communication Disorders and Sciences, Family and Community Services, Health Promotion, Kinesiology/Recreation Administration, and Military Science -- as well as the Dietetics and RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs.

-- the renaming the Lumpkin College of Business and Applied Sciences to the Lumpkin College of Business and Technology, which will include the School of Business, the School of Technology, and the Hospitality department.

-- the combining and renaming the College of Arts and Humanities and the College of Sciences to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which will be composed of a new School of Communication and Journalism and a new School of Fine and Performing Arts (Music, Art and Design, and Theatre), along with the Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Geology/Geography, English, Foreign Language, History, Mathematics and Computer Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology/Anthropology/Criminal Justice departments.

-- the renaming the College of Education and Professional Studies to the College of Education, which will include the School of Extended Learning (Bachelor of General Studies program, Lifelong Learning, and Non-Credit programming); the Office of Education and Student Services; and the Counseling and Student Development, Educational Leadership, Special Education, and the Teaching, Learning and Foundation departments.

-- the enhancing the focus for Pine Honors College and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to bolster research, study abroad, internships and community engagement.

Gatrell said this is a necessary move to set up a framework for growth in the university and hopefully set the groundwork for new programs to excite new student populations.

"If we are going to create new programs and retain students, we need to have programs and identities that make sense," Gatrell said. "We need to have structures that support the development of new programs as well as our existing outstanding programs."

Gatrell explained that these shifts are crucial for new program growth because these programs must align with each colleges' mission.

He expects several programs to spring up from this move in the next two to five years as the new structure is implemented. Gatrell mentioned the addition of Occupational Therapy and Social Work as examples of possibilities for the future for which the university community has clamored.

The fusion of the arts and the sciences into one college raised concern among the audience. In the question-and-answer period following the announcement, many were anxious about the merger, claiming that the two distinct fields would not meld together fairly under one college and one central leadership.

Gatrell argued that having a unified voice under one banner for the arts and sciences will be a powerful framework for innovation. He noted that collaboration already takes place among the two groups.

The university once had these two divisions under one banner, but it was changed 25 years ago to what it is today in an effort to even out programs among colleges, according to EIU President David Glassman.

The college has a sizable number of programs under its wing; however, Gatrell said a number of other institutions have similar colleges with a greater array of programs to take on. He noted that combining the two is common practice among higher education institutions.

The shift will take place over the next year or two and will result in no faculty losses, EIU officials said. Also, Gatrell said the shift is budget neutral.

Gatrell addressed the vitalization workgroup interest in adding to the slate of colleges at the university. Gatrell said it would not be feasible at this point because of the big ticket costs associated with it. He said it could cost anywhere from $375,000 or more to establish a new college.

Also as part of the announcement, Gatrell said there will be national dean searches during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years for the four new main colleges.

"If we don't do it now, it is probably not going to happen," he said. "This is a unique time in the history of this institution. There is a lot of energy around these themes, these priorities, and I urge us as a community to be willing to move forward."

Glassman added that this will position the university to be more competitive in the market.

The realignment is set to take place over the next year.



Jarad Jarmon is a reporter for the JG-TC. He covers the city of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Mattoon schools and the Regional Office of Education.

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