By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
Three departments and a school formerly in the College of Arts and Sciences will move next year to be part of the university’s newly created College of Education and Human Services, administrators said Wednesday.
The departments of Education; Exercise Science and Health; Communication Sciences and Disorders and the School of Social Work, which houses both undergraduate and graduate social work programs, will comprise the university’s fourth college, which will open in the fall of 2006.
Dr. Colleen Durrington, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, provost, both said these departments and programs fit together well and should benefit from the new college structure.
“Education degrees, while grounded in the liberal arts, prepare students specifically for a profession that requires external certification,” VanRheenen said in an e-mail. “The same is true for social work, physical education, health, speech pathology and audiology, to mention a few. Putting these programs together in a new college should communicate how much we value these programs.”
VanRheenen said at other universities, education and human service programs are not part of colleges of arts and sciences like they are here.
“To not have a college of education when almost all peer institutions do have a separate, free-standing unit may leave the impression that ACU sees these areas as less important than do other universities,” VanRheenen said.
VanRheenen also said the programs should benefit from the restructuring because students, faculty and administrators in those departments and programs would have much easier and more frequent access to administrators of the college.
Durrington said she began speaking with department chairs after the university’s Board of Trustees approved the new college in August. She said each department had the option to move to the new college.
Dr. David Gotcher, interim chair of the Department of Sociology and Social Work, said the undergraduate social work program will split away from his department and combine with the masters of social work program, which will began taking students in the fall of 2007, to form the School of Social Work within the new college. The programs of sociology, criminal justice, family studies and gerontology will remain in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Gotcher said moving social work to the new college will benefit all the programs in his department.
“The department as it’s currently structured have worked together very well over the last several years, but we’ve been very sensitive to each other’s needs,” Gotcher said. “Things that sociology might have liked to develop, we have not because we have been considering these other programs. Splitting us up will allow us to develop our programs a little easier.”
Gotcher also said the social work program’s accreditation council, the Council on Social Work Education, prefers that social work programs operate as a seperate unit, not as part of a larger department. Although the social work program has received its accreditiation, Gotcher said creating a seperate School of Social Work will better satisty accreditation requirements.
Financially, VanRheenen said the university will have to add a faculty member to serve as dean of the college as well as teach a couple courses each year. By shifting to a smaller college, VanRheenen said faculty in each individual department, particularly the department of education, might have to spend less time on administration and be able to spend more time teaching.
Durrington said the university will conduct a nationwide search for a new dean of the college, but the university might not have someone in place until late spring.
When the college opens next fall with about 900 students, it will be the university’s second largest college, behind only the College of Arts and Sciences, where they all now reside.
Durrington said the headquarters for the new college will be the remodeled Burford Music Hall, which should be complete by next fall. The new hall will house the college’s administrators as well as the Department of Education. All other departments or programs will stay in their current location.