The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences approved the Dean’s proposal for reorganization of the College of Arts and Sciences with 74.8 percent of the voting faculty approving the proposal.
Of the faculty who participated in the vote, 119 approved the proposal, 34 voted against the proposal and six voted to abstain.
Joseph Marbach, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said he felt the faculty overwhelmingly supported the proposal because they recognized the proposal as a way of cutting costs without impacting academic programs and protecting some of the smaller academic programs.
The primary goal of the reorganization proposal, according to Marbach, was to create as little impact as possible on the students by involving administrative changes, not academic ones.
“If we are successful, the students really shouldn’t notice anything besides maybe a new department chair,” Marbach said.
Marbach added that no degree programs or class requirements would change for students due to the reorganization.
“A department is an artificial structure; (students) get degrees in programs, not departments,” Marbach said.
Currently, Marbach is working with the affected departments to work on the details of the plan, which will officially be implemented on July 1, the beginning of Seton Hall’s new fiscal year.
Marbach said the affected departments are working to create a new administrative structure, which includes electing a chair for the newly created departments and figuring out stipends and duties for each chair.
Additionally, some newly merged departments are considering creating assistant chair positions in order to ensure students get the best guidance possible for their programs, according to Marbach. Students could then go to the assistant chairs to get courses signed off for their specific program, Marbach said.
According to Gloria Thurmond, chair of the department of music, the reorganization plan will eventually combine the music program with the theater program to create the department of performing arts, a sub-division within the newly established department of communication and the arts.
“However, this plan is quite futuristic and will not be implemented as part of the current reorganizational activity,” Thurmond said.
Thurmond also said she felt the plan would help to save smaller programs within the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Of course, the necessity of combining the faculty, who are representative of different disciplines and program concerns, will present both a challenge and an opportunity,” Thurmond said. But Thurmond also feels the challenge could work to expand and enrich both the theater and music programs.
Jeffrey Togman, chair of the department of political science, another department which will be affected by the merger, said he felt the merger will present opportunities for greater faculty collaboration.
“Undergraduate and graduate students alike should benefit from access to a larger faculty and expanded course offerings,” Togman said. “The combined B.A. in Political Science/M.P.A. should be strengthened by the merger. We’ve already had some exciting conversations and meetings, and I’m very much looking forward to working with my new departmental colleagues.”
Marbach also felt the departments affected by the reorganization could benefit from working with faculty from different departments.
“I hope this can re-energize some departments,” Marbach said.
Marbach added that, while doing research for the proposal, he found many of the departments that will merge had been one department as recently as 20 years ago and had divided. Essentially, Marbach said, many of the departments would be returning to their original state.
Marbach also said he was pleasantly surprised with faculty response, which was largely positive. He said most faculty seemed eager to start working out the details for the new departments.
Because this merger will be the largest one, according to Marbach, the plan divides the newly established department into three parts: the division of communication, the division of art, history and design and the division of performing arts.
Caitlin Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.