Provost forwards proposals for academic restructuring

The Office of the Provost's ongoing exploration of potential restructuring throughout Temple's academic enterprise has reached the next phase. After months of discussions with faculty following the distribution of a 25-page "white paper," Temple Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Richard M. Englert has released several specific proposals.

Among the recommendations submitted for consideration are the creation of a new Center for Fine and Performing arts (consisting of two intact current schools, the Tyler School of Art and the Boyer College of Music and Dance, as well as the departments of Theater and Film and Media Arts); a more focused School of Communications (made up of the academic programs in the current School of Communications and Theater, except for the departments of Theater and Film and Media Arts); and a School of Education (a restructured College of Education with three current departments streamlined into one). Englert also noted new guidelines on faculty workload that had been forwarded for comment from President Ann Weaver Hart as well as the approval of a move to online Student Feedback Forms.

"In light of declining state support and Temple's changing competitive environment, our mission is clear: We must do all we can to keep tuition low, continue to focus on academic excellence and improve the Temple experience for all students," Englert said. "Our ongoing discussions with the Temple community have yielded a series of proposals and actions that have the potential to be more effective in achieving our academic goals while continuing to be more efficient in our administrative operations and structures."

Englert called the proposed Center for Fine and Performing Arts "an outstanding opportunity to showcase and better support the arts at Temple." The proposed center would preserve the names and academic programs of Temple's highly regarded Tyler School and Boyer College while opening up new opportunities for interdisciplinary coordination and reinforcing Temple's growing reputation as one of the nation's top centers for education in the arts. The proposal calls for the center to be headed by a dean, to which directors of Tyler and Boyer would report. The consolidation of deanships and some redundant functions would save the university about $450,000 annually and provide better coordination among administrative functions, Englert said.

The proposals for restructuring schools and colleges were forwarded for comment to all the faculty members and administrators in affected schools and colleges and posted online. Comments on the proposals may be submitted, either signed or anonymously. After the comment period ends on April 30, the provost will consider suggestions and make appropriate changes before making his final recommendations to President Hart. Presidentially approved proposals will be submitted to Temple's Board of Trustees for consideration.

Another proposed action that emerged from the provost's white paper, the president's university-wide guidelines for faculty workload — a proposal to increase the amount of direct classroom contact that Temple students have with tenured and tenure-track faculty members — was shared with faculty members for comment, with a deadline of April 13. Other proposals put forward in the white paper have already been approved, including a university-wide move to electronic Student Feedback Forms (replacing paper forms effective Summer 2012) and the activation of a search for a new dean of Temple University Libraries.

Other restructuring measures being implemented or already implemented include the consolidation of facilities at Temple's Fort Washington location, administrative streamlining within the Provost's portfolio and Temple's schools and colleges, reorganization of the recruitment and admission of international students and numerous academic initiatives to meet the needs of citizens, businesses and government throughout the region in line with Temple's mission and with the ability to generate new revenue sources.

Englert will continue to visit collegial assemblies and meet with faculty members and administrators to discuss proposals in the coming weeks.