Idaho State University Reorganization Encourages Collaboration
Fall 2011 Issue | By Andrew Taylor
TWO NEW COLLEGES AND ONE NEW DIVISION
It's been a little more than a year since Idaho State University was reorganized from seven colleges to six colleges and a Division of Health Sciences, a structural change that grouped academic units together in a more cohesive manner.
"I think the reorganization has been really good for the University," said Barbara Adamcik, ISU interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. "There was so much controversy when it was put in place, but it has enhanced interdisciplinary work and collaboration. The University's academic units are now grouped more logically and efficiently."
Prior to the July 2010 reorganization, ISU's seven colleges were Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, Health Professions, Pharmacy and Technology.
The new organization features the College of Arts and Letters, College of Science and Engineering, and Division of Health Sciences. The College of Pharmacy has been moved under the umbrella of the Division of Health Sciences. The colleges of Business, Education and Technology, and the Graduate School, remain the same.
"I applaud the deans and their faculty for working together to improve collaboration and leverage more opportunity for faculty and students," said Arthur C. Vailas, ISU President.
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND LETTERS
The new College of Arts and Letters contains all the fine arts and humanities disciplines and behavioral and social sciences from the former College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Kandi Turley-Ames
"I'm very excited about the opportunities the College of Arts and Letters has provided its faculty and students, in part because we can focus on areas that had not been focused on in the past," said Kandi Turley-Ames, dean of the College of Arts and Letters.
The new college has been organized into two divisions -Fine Arts and Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The college has focused on identifying areas of excellence, increasing research and offering more educational opportunities to students.
For example, a new School of Performing Arts integrates the theatre and dance department with the music department.
"Since these two areas have come together and collaborated, they have become a greater presence on campus and provide students with exceptional training in the performing arts," Turley-Ames said.
The Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences has increased its research output, and has attracted grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Justice and National Science Foundation, as well as grants from the state of Idaho.
"Our faculty are really stepping up in terms of research productivity and creative activity, and they have received national attention for their work. Importantly, we're meeting and exceeding the expectations of students at the undergraduate and graduate level," Turley-Ames said. "The faculty in arts and letters are doing a great job in moving this university forward, and the College of Arts and Letters plans to be central to the growth and success of ISU."
COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
The new College of Science and Engineering is comprised of the science departments - biological sciences, chemistry, physics, geosciences - and math department from the former College of Arts and Sciences. The College of Engineering has become the School of Engineering in the new college.
"I'm pleased about the College and proud of it," said George Imel, new dean of the College of Science and Engineering. "The focus of the new college is clear: scientific teaching and scientific research. Science and engineering fit together better than arts and sciences."
He said that since the reorganization he has seen more collaboration between departments and across disciplines, and the College has made a number of joint faculty appointments.
"We could do joint appointments before, but we weren't doing them as much as we are now," Imel said. "There's just a lot more synergy and interaction than we had before."
This collaboration should lead to increased grant funding.
"We probably emphasize research funding more than any other unit on campus. It is our bread and butter," Imel said.
The reorganization has one other large benefit to the College, according to its dean.
"We have much more control over our budgets and our new hires, and, ultimately, our colleges' future planning," Imel said. "The reorganization has been very successful."
DIVISION OF HEALTH SCIENCES
The Division of Health Sciences includes the College of Pharmacy, and realigned departments and programs from the former Kasiska College of Health Professions. The new Division of Health Sciences is comprised of the College of Pharmacy, School of Health Professions, School of Nursing, Office of Medical and Oral Health, School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences, and the Institute of Rural Health. It offers educational programs for 18 professional health-related disciplines.
The reorganization brings two important changes to Idaho State University, said Linda Hatzenbuehler, division associate vice president and executive dean. For one, the new Division brings the College of Pharmacy under a single administrative umbrella with the majority of other ISU health professions programs.
"Pharmacy is now a fully integrated partner with the other health professions on campus," Hatzenbuehler said. "Before pharmacy was a bit isolated as a stand-alone college, but the reorganization really brings it together with other health professions. We've already seen more collaboration."
The second major change is that programs under the former Kasiska College of Health Professions have been subdivided into smaller units. For example, the School of Nursing is now free standing, and the School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences groups together the Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Education of the Deaf, and the clinics associated with these departments.
"By developing smaller sub-units, we've set up the opportunity for closer collaboration for the programs that have common interests," Hatzenbuehler said.
Each program will have its own strategic plan and a strategic plan for the division is being developed.
"Our primary goals are to increase our research profile and increase collaboration on research and curriculum development," she said. "We're looking at research teams that are multidisciplinary and focus on a single issue, like diabetes, which may put researchers in a better position to attract external funding.
"Similarly, with curriculum," continued Hatzenbuehler, "we're looking at decreasing duplicated courses across curricula, and offering more interprofessional experiences for students in classrooms and clinics."
Hatzenbuehler is excited about the progress the Division has made.
"It has been a great year," she said. "There are many details yet to be ironed out, but everybody seems to be willing to work on those details."