JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Thursday night, leaders at Arkansas State University announced their plan to restructure the campus.
It's a word that's created concern with students, faculty and staff, as "restructure" often means jobs will be cut.
The University admitted, there will be job cuts but they believe the positives will outweigh the negatives.
"There is no perfect answer, but this will be something that will benefit the majority," Dr. Shivan Haran said.
Dr. Haran chaired one of two separate task forces aimed at planning the restructure. Provost, Dr. Lynita Cooksey chaired the other task force.
For months, those groups discussed how to go about restructuring ASU's nine colleges.
"It did allow us to go off and do our work separately and then come back, work together and we both came to the table with just about the same consensus," Dr. Cooksey said.
The plan, reduce the number of colleges at Arkansas State from nine to six. Some colleges would merge with others, some colleges would stand alone.
Even between the task forces, the discussion was heated between people affiliated with certain colleges.
"Don't touch my college or don't touch my department," Dr. Haran said. "Once cooler heads prevailed, I think we all came to the understanding that all said and done, it's about ASU."
Though the task forces eventually came to the same conclusion, students, faculty and staff from Arkansas State still had questions and concerns about why a restructure was necessary and what it would mean for them.
Dr. Cooksey said it comes down to efficiency and synergy. She said students likely won't even notice a change and faculty will remain the same.
"Our faculty will still be going and teaching their classes, doing their research and their scholarship, doing their service. students will still be participating in the academic programs that they're in and hopefully new programs and new opportunities," Dr. Cooksey said.
However, Dr. Cooksey said some jobs will be lost in the process.
"Part of restructuring usually results in some sort of downsizing," Dr. Cooksey said. "Obviously if you're a Dean, you're at the greatest risk because if we reduce the number of colleges, we reduce the number of Deans."
Dr. Cooksey said once reconfigurations are set, there's the possibility that staff and other positions might be lost as well.
Dr. Cooksey said the goal is to be proactive.
"We're seeing a lot of reductions in state funding and federal funding and research funds," she said. "So being as efficient as we can be is just truly, truly important for the long term future of the University."
Dr. Cooksey said it is important to note that accreditations to programs won't be affected by the restructuring.
Quite a few of the concerns by both students and faculty revolved around the branding or identity of certain colleges.
Dr. Gil Fowler with the College of Media and Communication said he hopes a great deal of time is spent on naming the colleges once restructured.
"As we do these combinations sometimes, we have the tendency to get lost in the midst of whatever that group happens to be," Dr. Fowler said. "I'm very concerned that some of the things that stand out, as far as our unique areas of education and discipline, will be lost as we do this process."
Dr. Cooksey said so far, they've only proposed relationships of certain colleges, not new names. She said a lot of time and effort will be spent on choosing the correct name for these colleges.
So far, the proposed six model college is:
- College of Business
- College of Agriculture and Technology + College of Engineering
- College of Nursing and Health Professions
- College of Education
- College of Fine Arts + College of Humanities + College of Media and Communication
- College of Science and Math
According to Dr. Cooksey, some social science programs have expressed an interest in transferring to Sciences and Mathematics. There may be other programs or departments that relocate.
Dr. Cooksey said if it doesn't work, they will tweak it until it does. However, they hope to have the restructuring complete by July 1, 2016.
The next step is to take the plan, along with the concerns voiced Thursday night, to the Shared Governance Oversight Committee.