By Jake Huffcutt —
With the notorious Walker budget cuts finally upon us, University of Wisconsin–Stout has begun to make some tough decisions regarding where the school’s money should be withdrawn.
A number of strategies will be implemented to meet the criteria of the new budget; including instituting a new workload model and having larger class sizes (these together are expected to save the school another $900,000).
Another large measure being taken is the restructuring of the different colleges on campus. For the past 10 years there have been four different colleges, with different majors and programs being grouped together based on similarity. Now Stout is making the move back to three colleges to save on costs.
The move is expected to save the university $360,000, and it was recommended to Chancellor Bob Meyer by Stout’s Strategic Planning Group when brainstorming on how to be more economically efficient was occurring.
The colleges are being restructured based on a number of criteria, including: programs that share courses with each other, close proximity in buildings, faculty feedback, etc. The Provost Dr. Patrick Guilfoile, who has played a large part in this restructuring, said, “The primary logic was to keep programs together that had shared curriculum and potential for new or additional collaborations.”
Community feedback has played a significant role in this process. Before Sept. 21, 165 survey results containing input were filled out and submitted online. A campus-wide forum also occurred on the morning of Oct. 28 in the ballrooms of the Memorial Student Center to hear further constructive comments from faculty and students.
In the end, the new colleges were constructed with heavy assistance from campus involvement. Concerns that were addressed in the final modeling stage included keeping the departments related to business and management together, keeping Apparel Design and Development in the STEM college and keeping the School of Art and Design within the same college as humanities due to programmatic alignment, among many more.
Besides saving the school hundred of thousands of dollars, some other benefits are expected with this new system as well. Now that majors are grouped together on a more general basis, new opportunities for active integration between programs may occur.
Vice Chancellor Philip Lyons also says that compressing the colleges might “…create efficiencies within the colleges that not only save money but allow for reallocation of funds or resources to growing programs.”
Naturally, there will be some heavy disadvantages to downsizing the colleges. One such problem is that having more programs in each college means more work for the deans, which will put more demand on their time. None of the majors will be affected though, so students need not worry.
There is still work ahead for finalizing this process. Recognizing faculty and funding, naming the new colleges and hiring new deans are all concerns that still need to be addressed. Guilfoile states that the hiring of new deans rather than having interim deans head the new departments is preferable because of “the scope of the changes in the new colleges.”
Student and staff feedback will also be taken into consideration when deciding on names for the new colleges, and suggestions can be sent to email@example.com.
Changes are expected to go in effect on July 1, 2016. The full list of programs within each college, as well as what concerns from the Stout community were addressed, can be found at http://www.uwstout.edu/admin/provost/upload/2015-11-10-Reorganization_draft.pdf.