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University-Wide Restructuring Positions USciences for Future Growth
In less than four years, the University will be celebrating its bicentennial. Much has changed in those almost 200 years and for USciences to continue to thrive in today’s evolving landscape of higher education and healthcare, the University must continue to position the University for the future.
In messages to the USciences community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni on June 14, 2017, University President Paul Katz, MD, and Board Chairman Marvin Samson HonAlm’96, HonDSc’16, emphasized the University’s commitment to becoming the higher education institution of choice for careers in the science and health professions. To achieve this vision, USciences must be situated for long-term success, becoming a more efficient and nimble organization, all while keeping the needs of our students at the forefront of our planning.
The Program Review Process: What We Learned
Over the past 14 months, the University embarked on a campus-wide review that showed:
- USciences is delivering the right programs, but the cost to deliver these programs is too high.
- Recent enrollment declines, even with an increased entering freshman class this fall, have created a mismatch between revenue and expenses.
Positioning USciences for the Future
Following the work by University leadership, the USciences Board of Trustees endorsed a repositioning of the University that reduced some staff and faculty positions, and included the following actions:
- Phasing out the master of public health program, online post-professional doctor of occupational therapy program, the forensic science certificate and minor, the small business minor, the professional writing minor, the music minor, and merging several minors in humanities and social sciences.
- Recommending to Faculty Senate that physical education be removed from the general education requirement and to consider other health and wellness initiatives for students.
- Investing in the brewing science certificate program and the Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES) program.
- Investing in a Substance Use Disorders Center designed to provide educational programming and other services to the healthcare community about this national problem.
Throughout the review, the University wanted to be certain to maintain a student-centric environment - one that provides its students a robust cultural and community environment to complement the top-notch academic program. The University leadership also took a hard look at the systems and structure around the University using campus input to determine what was working well and what could be working better. It was announced that the University would:
- Restructure Student Affairs to better meet the needs of its students, including moving the Athletics reporting line to Student Affairs.
- Consolidate Academic Advising, the Writing Center, Student Academic Support Services, and the Career Center under Student Affairs to provide integrated and efficient services to our students.
- No longer sponsor the sport of women’s and mixed rifle, which has not been a contributor to student recruitment and has seen decreasing NCAA participation across the country.
- Continue to build the men’s and women’s track and field team to begin competition in 2017-18, with future plans to add men's and women's soccer, and men's and women's lacrosse. The addition of these men’s and women’s sports, all of which are sponsored by the colleges and universities in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) in which USciences is a member, will enhance enrollment.
Through all of these actions and others, the University will achieve a balanced budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year and will position the University for long-term financial stability.
Maintaining our “Focus on the Future”
Dr. Katz and Dr. Samson emphasized that the University must focus on the future to be more student-centric; facilitate culture and communication; generate revenue; and develop new partnerships. While this University-wide restructuring brings revenues and expenses into alignment, it also goes hand in hand with other initiatives and activities already underway:
- Construction of a new, 400-bed mixed-use residence/academic facility begins this summer with a winter 2018-19 opening scheduled.
- Rolling out a new marketing campaign for prospective students, their families, and other influencers.
- Launching a new neuroscience bachelor’s degree program that has already enrolled students for fall of 2017.
- And continuing the development of new partnerships and articulations with community colleges, other higher education institutions, industry, and healthcare systems.
As the University approaches its bicentennial, the aim is to honor its legacy by becoming the higher education institution of choice for well-qualified learners dedicated to pursuing careers in science and health professions. USciences must build on its heritage by offering high quality, innovative programs combined with the flexibility needed for a diverse student body that includes both traditional and nontraditional students.
Continued support from USciences' students, faculty, staff, and alumni, will ensure that a shared vision will optimally position the campus to meet the needs of the "new" USciences in the future of higher education.
Categories: News, Alumni, Board of Trustees, President, Academics, Athletics, USciences