CU Boulder groups to analyze feasibility of College of Arts and Sciences restructuring

A University of Colorado committee convened to examine restructuring the College of Arts and Sciences , which recommends maintaining the unified college but internally restructuring it.

CU Provost Russell Moore formed the committee in spring 2018 to study a faculty-written paper suggesting a restructuring. The committee did not recommend using the model in the paper, but instead recommended naming three deans who would report to an executive dean to head the largest campus college.

For the next steps in the process, Moore plans to form in early April three working groups of “campus subject matter experts to examine the structural, budgetary and governance issues needed to implement the major recommendations.”

In this scenario, an executive dean would serve as a leader and supervisor of the college and three divisional deans would have greater budgetary authority and responsibilities.

“I just think it‘s a really unique opportunity to take a look at better aligning our resources and provide better support to our students and our faculty in their work,” Moore said.

The three working groups are charged with submitting reports by the end of 2019.

The committee making the recommendations said in its report that the changes could improve the College of Arts and Sciences representation in campus-level decision making, get the college more attention for resource allocations, enhance faculty governance, optimize internal resource allocations, generate new revenue and empower decision-making at a divisional level.

In its study, the committee looked at two peer institutions with similar experiences. One, the University of California Davis College of Letters and Science, previously used a structure similar to that recommended in the faculty-written paper, which has school deans report directly to the provost and responsibility for shared services given to a managing dean.

However, UC Davis recently returned to the committee-recommended model, with semi-autonomous divisional deans reporting to an executive dean.

UC Davis Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter said they changed the model “to unify practices across the divisions, to streamline and better coordinate central services, and to increase the profile of the dean of the college of Letters & Science, and of its intellectual mission, both internally within the university and externally.”

Hexter said in an email that administrative costs for support functions have already decreased. The college has a better idea of spending throughout departments, and there is greater transparency and accountability, according to Hexter.

“The new arrangement has advanced the prominence of L&S as both a college and an intellectual enterprise,” he said.

Moore said it would be speculation to predict challenges to the transition or whether the changes would require different funding, and he expects the various committees to address those in their reports. A potential barrier to the restructuring could be costs, if they are too high, he said.