UTSA's proposed academic restructuring will benefit students by strengthening programs, increasing program development, improving academic advising, and attracting and retaining faculty.
According to Dr. Guy Bailey, provost and vice president for academic affairs, the proposed academic reorganization will implement a new college structure‹six colleges will replace UTSA's current four. The new colleges will consist of the College of Business, College of Education and Human Development, College of Engineering, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, College of Sciences, and College of Urban Professional Programs.
Additionally, division directors will be replaced with rotating department chairs. "That's a transition that will take place over several years," said Bailey. "We have eight vacant division director positions and that is where the rotating chairs will first be implemented." Bailey added that the current division directors would continue in their positions. Once their term is up, the positions will be replaced with rotating department chairs.
Bailey states that students will benefit from the new reorganization in several ways.
First, programs such as engineering and education will be strengthened. "It's very difficult to maintain a full engineering faculty," said Bailey, citing that over the last three years there has been a 50 percent turnover in engineering faculty.
Much of this turnover is due to the location of engineering within the current academic structure, he explains. "If you look around the state, you'll find that most engineering programs have their own colleges. It's hard for a division to be competitive with a college," Bailey said.
Bailey also cites that the current "outdated" academic structure is one reason the education division has a difficult time hiring and retaining the best faculty.
Next, Bailey said dividing divisions into independent units would allow growth in degree programs.
"For instance, we know there is a big demand for a masters program in communication," said Bailey, adding that grouping communication with English, classics and philosophy is "structurally cumbersome."
"I think as soon as you see communication as a separate department, you'll see a masters degree shortly," he said.
Lastly, $475,000 is being invested to revamp academic advising. The money will be used to hire 16 new academic advisers, and to create a central advising center in every college (much like the current structure in the College of Business) where advisers are linked, well trained, and held accountable.
"The problem right now is that we hire people at low wages, they don't stay there long, we don't train them well and they are not held accountable," said Bailey.
Bailey said academic advising would take a "remarkable step forward" next year by becoming more "student friendly."
Bailey also added that these steps are only the first phase in an advising plan. Work on hiring more advisers and expanding advising services for...