Posted January 26, 2012

Provost outlines possible academic restructuring

After more than six months of meetings with Temple faculty members, librarians and administrators, the Office of the Provost has issued a white paper outlining potential restructuring throughout the university’s academic enterprise.

The 25-page document, which was shared with faculty members via the Faculty Senate in December, was drafted in response to challenges presented by shrinking state support for higher education, a volatile national economy, declining numbers of high school graduates and other changes in Temple’s competitive environment.

“We are always seeking ways to enhance the Temple experience for students while keeping tuition affordable, but new fiscal challenges add urgency to our search for efficiencies,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Richard M. Englert.

“If we want to continue to provide the best value in urban public higher education — and I assure the Temple community that our commitment to the university’s mission of access and excellence is unwavering — then we need to discuss new ways to be both efficient and effective. This document is the next step in that ongoing discussion,” he said.

The white paper contains more than 25 potential areas for administrative restructuring in almost every part of the provost’s portfolio. Initiatives being considered include increasing classroom interactions between students and full-time faculty members, consolidating administrative offices and positions, realigning schools and colleges, streamlining curricular structures, improving scheduling, consolidating academic support, restructuring the distribution of graduate teaching assistantships and fellowships, coordinating electronic and software systems support and streamlining international student admissions.

Englert stressed that the proposals outlined in the white paper reinforce the goals of the Academic Strategic Compass and the Temple 20/20 framework for campus development. He added that the proposals do not represent a retraction of Temple’s academic enterprise, pointing to proposals for new or enhanced initiatives such as a centralized Learning Support Center; clinical dental and health services; entrepreneurship programs; summer programming; programs for adults, mid-career professionals and veterans; and admissions initiatives for Philadelphia students.

The Faculty Herald, published by the Faculty Senate, called the white paper “strikingly thoughtful and comprehensive.”

Although Englert emphasized the breadth of the white paper’s proposals, he acknowledged that some subjects were more likely to draw the Temple community’s attention. Highest on that list may be proposals for the realignment of some of Temple’s schools and colleges.

One option among many mentioned in the white paper, for example, is the possible integration of Temple’s arts programs — including those currently in the Tyler School of Art, the Boyer College of Music and Dance and the School of Communications and Theater — into one arts college. Other proposals for further discussion include affiliations between the College of Education and other Temple schools or colleges.

Englert said that the proposals in the white paper are not faits accomplis, nor should they be treated as one monolithic proposal with a single, set timeline. As discussions continue, some proposals in the white paper may be set aside; others may take different shapes.

Discussions with the Faculty Senate, faculty members and administrators — especially at affected schools, colleges and departments — will continue through the winter and into the spring. Revised proposals are likely to emerge in the late winter, with final review by governance bodies and (in some cases) final approval and implementation taking place starting in the late spring.

The Office of the Provost will be sharing the white paper with more constituencies in the coming weeks. Students, staff members and alumni will have an opportunity to review and respond to the document. Suggestions and feedback may be submitted (anonymously, if desired) via the provost’s website.