Academic Affairs Administrative Restructuring

A Plan for the Restructuring of the Academic Affairs Administration

April 2008

Statement of Need

A discussion of the academic administrative structure has been ongoing for many years. For example, in 2003 Institutional Self- Study prepared for the North Central Accreditation, the Study Committee identified many complexities to staying with the current structure or moving to a structure that includes midlevel leaders. In summer 2002, a faculty summer study group examined academic administrative structures at a number of liberal arts colleges and reported the findings to the Provost/Dean and also shared the findings with faculty colleagues. This information was shared with CUPP during the 2006-07 academic year as the Committee explored structures that may be most effective at IWU.

Why change Academic Affairs administrative structure and why do this now? The current academic administrative structure has been in place since the mid-1990’s. The number of students has increase from 1,830 in 1994-95 to currently 2,100. Additionally, the number of tenure-line faculty has increased from about 120 to 165 during the same time period. However, the number of full-time and part-time Academic Affairs administrators has remained the same. In addition, the curriculum has increased in complexity with, for example, changes to the General Education requirements, the addition of the London and Madrid programs, and an increase in number of interdisciplinary programs.

Further changes are expected with the implementation of recommendations from the Strategic Curricular Review Task Force and the Summer Writing Study Group. Additionally, the need for assessment of the academic programs, including writing and critical thinking, has increased. More students arrive with needing special accommodations. The way that our students learn and the manner that the faculty are teaching is rapidly changing. In general, the work of the University and Academic Affairs, specifically, has become much more complicated.

There are two implications of current staffing in the Academic Affairs administration. The first is that some administrative issues have been postponed or delayed. For example, the Provost/Dean is unable to update the faculty hiring guidelines and provide assistance in the search process, the Associate Provost is not able to provide support for students submitting applications for fellowships such as Fulbrights, the Associate Dean of Faculty does not have time to address new pedagogies involving technology, and the Assistant Provost/Registrar has little time to address advising issues. The second implication of current staffing is even more important. Faculty are feeling less engaged with the Administration as they experience an increase in the demands on their time and fewer opportunities to interact with an Administration that is spread thin. The Academic Affairs administration struggles to find opportunities to discuss new ideas from faculty and students. The Administration, therefore, is less able to initiate any new projects that stem from faculty and/or students.

The proposed structure reflects a call from faculty to provide more support of issues related to the curriculum. In addition, the Provost/Dean has begun to implement a series of communication mechanisms such that ideas can percolate from faculty to the administration. These include:

· Regular meetings with the chairs/directors as a whole and in divisions

· A series of lunch with the Provost/Dean to provide an informal mechanism for faculty to talk about issues that concern them

· Open forums once per semester

· An Academic Affairs blog (see for disseminating information about new policies and other initiatives with the opportunity for faculty to provide feedback

· Inviting the chair of CUPP to several meetings of the Academic Affairs staff each semester

The Provost/Dean also has asked CUPP to examine ways that the Council can take a lead in facilitating the percolation of ideas from the faculty to the administration. The Provost/Dean meets regularly with CUPP as does the President. CUPP has representatives from each academic division and has as part of its charge to advise the President, the Provost/Dean, any member of the Council, or any member of the faculty. Furthermore, the Council can make recommendations to the President, the Provost/Dean, or the faculty on a variety of matters. It is natural for CUPP to consider ways to facilitate the flow of ideas between the faculty and the administration.

The issue of moving forward on the diversity goal of the Strategic Plan remains a topic of discussion. During the deliberations this year on the new academic administrative structure many faculty members continued to have questions about how the university will address diversity issues. Various suggestions have been put forward. President Wilson and I remain committed to making progress on the diversity goal. One idea that we are considering is a university-wide “diversity council.” The council would include representatives from faculty, staff, and students. We imagine that the council would engage in conversations across campus about diversity and make recommendations regarding the campus climate, issues of diversity in the curriculum and classroom, and the diversity of our students, staff, and faculty. In the fall we will involve the faculty in discussions of potentially constituting this council.

The following outlines the major revisions and aspects that remain unchanged to the structure of the Academic Affairs administration:

  • The Provost/Dean will provide oversight of diversity issues in Academic Affairs. In partnership with the faculty, the new Associate Dean of Curriculum will work on the continual improvement and expansion of diversity in the curriculum

  • A new full-time administrator, the Associate Dean of Curriculum, will be added to provide support to the faculty for issues related to the curriculum. The Provost/Dean will continue to be the chief academic officer of the University and will, therefore, be the supervisor of the new Associate Dean. However, the new Associate Dean will have the authority to act to deliver resources in the area of the curriculum. The new Associate Dean position will be a four year, rotating position with the selection of the Associate Dean from current tenured faculty.

  • The Academic Affairs staff will continue to work cooperatively with each other, meeting frequently as a management team for academic affairs to work through issues together. The new Associate Dean will be brought into the fold.

  • The Director of General Education and the May Term Director positions will be eliminated. The new Associate Dean will take on the responsibilities associated with these two part-time administrative positions.

  • All department chairs, school directors, and interdisciplinary program directors will operate on an equal footing in relationship to central administrative offices. That is, all department chairs, school directors, and interdisciplinary program directors will continue to report directly to the Provost/Dean.

  • The Provost/Dean will continue to act as direct supervisor to all department chairs, school directors, and interdisciplinary program directors in all areas that relate to personnel management – hiring, promotion, tenure, retirement, etc. All matters related to faculty salary and program operating budgets will also move directly from chairs/directors to the Provost/Dean.

  • The term of the Associate Dean of Faculty will be four years rather than three.

  • The title of the Associate Provost will be changed to Associate Provost for Planning and Academic Standards and the title of the Assistant Provost/Registrar will be changed to Associate Provost for Administration and Academic Programs. These positions also have adjustments to their responsibilities to reflect their new titles.


About bethacunningham

Professor of Physics
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