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Faculty to get central role in academic side of NCSU restructuring

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It’s a chaotic time at NCSU, with three separate, but interrelated processes going on that all will play major roles in reshaping the university.

This morning, we wrote about a plan developed by Provost Warwick Arden and Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business Charles Leffler at the request of Chancellor Randy Woodson. It’s a broad outline for reorganizing several major parts of the campus.

 In passing, we mentioned the other two processes in play now. One of those is budget planning, which of course is an annual event but this year is particularly serious, with university leaders bracing for a loss of as much as 15 percent, or $80 million, of the state allocation. A hefty cut is all but certain, given the state’s dire budget problems.

The other process going on now is a long-range strategic planning effort for the campus that has been under way for months and  formed much of the underpinning of the reorganization plan.

The reorganization includes merging several administrative offices and setting up a process to consider streamlining facets of academics. Among the biggest likely changes is a reorganization of the three colleges that many of the university’s science courses:  Agriculture and Life Sciences ; Physical and Mathematical Sciences ; and Natural Resources.

In interviews, Woodson and Arden were careful to stress that faculty will play a major role in determining how the academic units are retooled.

“Those things that are largely administrative, that we can make clear decision and take action quickly, we’re doing,” said Arden in an interview.  “But when you move into the more academic things such as how we deliver science academic programs, or evaluating graduate and undergraduate degree programs, those are things where you need to lay out  an agenda, but have the 2,000 faculty member s on the campus enter vigorously into the discussion, because we need to tap into their expertise to develop the solutions.”

University leaders said the sciences have evolved so that the academic structures in which they’re taught have become outmoded in some ways. Science is so central to the university’s role in the state, that it’s crucial to keep it vigorous, even in the face of repeated state budget cuts.

“We’ve thought about this, about how you deliver those programs  and actually perhaps strengthen those departments by perhaps having fewer,  and make them more effective  more effective,” Leffler said. “That’s not a small change by any stretch, and will take a lot of discussion.”

Leffler said that planning a reorganization of parts of the campus in the middle of a budget crisis was a case of “not wasting a crisis.,” Some of the changes would make sense even in a good budget year, but the efficiencies to be gained get more important with every dollar cut.

“There’s a  real understanding on our campus now that any dollar we can save by doing these things that’s not required to respond the to the budget reduction, that’s a dollar we can reinvest  in the campus,” he said.  

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