Last Thursday, Fort Hays State University held a town hall meeting announcing the results of both the Academic and Operational Task Forces that began working in October, seeking ways ways to re-engineer the college, with the hope of making FHSU better able to respond to changing environments in higher education and state funding.
The meeting proposed a complete overhaul of the administration and academic structures at the college.
During the meeting FHSU President Mirta Martin began by explaining the processes leading to the report’s formation.
“They were designed on purpose, from the bottom up,” Martin said. “There are no administrators, there are no deans, there are no VP’s in this task force and we have had absolutely no input, the information that you will see here today has been collected from information that has been garnished, by you, provided by you, and then assembled by this task force.”
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Information from the meeting
Read the full Academic Taskforce Report
See the full Proposed Organizational Charts
Informational Slides[/column]“We are facing unprecedented times here in Kansas and that which made us successful in the past 30 years will not make us successful in the next 30 years,” Martin said. “This re-engineering will afford us the opportunity to be more nimble, to provide staffing, where staffing is needed, to provide faculty where faculty is needed.”
Martin noted that some FHSU departments have remained at the same staffing levels since before massive expansion programs pushed FHSU from 5,000 students to almost 15,000.
In the proposed plan several areas of the administration will be centralized. Among them is University Relations, who handles official communications of FHSU. That department would oversee more of the FHSU message, creating a more cohesive brand and university message. Kent Steward, director of university relations, addressed the change briefly during the meeting.
“The climate of higher education has gone through some tremendous changes,” Steward said. “The competition for enrollment and for funding has just increased exponentially. That puts pressure on all of you to be able respond to those competitive challenges.”
“Because we know we’re enterprising and innovative, we have seen different kinds of marketing and communication functions rise up in all different areas across the campus and we have seen a lot of good results from that,” he said.
Despite that success, Steward said moving forward a center of all communications would be more efficient.
“What we have proposed here is to gather together or centralize these spread out marketing and communication functions,” Steward said.
Media and communication was also featured prominently in the academic presentation.
“The vast majority of departments stayed intact,” said Graham Glynn, who will official begin his official duties as provost in June. The provost is the most senior academic official on campus.
He noted that in the proposed structure only a few new departments would be created, among them a media department that would bring together aspects of the Department of Informatics, and Communication Studies. Before decisions for media studies placement are finalized, Glynn, indicated that he would need to collect more information from chairs and deans.
In response to a question from Scott Robson, chair of communication studies, Glynn clarified that this version of the proposal would see all media and communications under the direction of the communications department, if that version of the plan comes to fruition.
Another possibility would see Informatics be moved into the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, with both of its current programs in media studies and information technology as they are now.
The placement of psychology is also still being debated in this first step, listed under the college of health sciences and human services in the proposal.
A new humanities department was also presented. That department would house to history, philosophy and foreign languages.
Many questions were asked during the meeting what would bring those departments together, to which Glynn responded that he was unconvinced that structure would be fully workable and suggested as the process moves forward there could be changes to that department’s organization.
The proposed organizational chart, first released during the meeting, creates five colleges at FHSU; the College of Health and Human Services, the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, the College of Education, the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and the College of Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences.
FHSU is currently organized under four colleges with programs in technology, science, engineering and math being split between them.
During the meeting FHSU asked faculty and staff for feedback through surveys and will compiled by the task force with results compiled by April third and presented to the faculty senate by April 6.