In our time together this academic year, our campus community has taken a series of important steps in the pursuit of our strategic imperatives through our Academic Futures effort and other important initiatives.
Key to taking those steps has been a willingness to engage big questions, and there is no bigger question facing our campus than how to organize and lead our largest college, the College of Arts and Sciences. Today, I would like to provide you with two updates on our progress and next steps in that discussion.
First, I am announcing I am re-appointing current Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Jim White to another one-year term, ending June 30, 2019. Jim is providing open, collaborative and focused leadership that is encouraging the college to ask hard questions about its future while engaging in the vital work of the present.
We held a series of input meetings on Jim’s performance in late December of last year, with Arts and Sciences students, faculty, administrators and staff. There was a broad consensus from those meetings that Jim’s commitment to listen to all constituencies equally, his willingness to discuss tough issues openly and his orientation toward consensus problem-solving have made him a respected and credible leader.
Many participants in these meetings were also clear that appointing a second interim dean or launching a national search for a new dean now—while the strategic direction of the college is still under consideration—will create instability and impede the progress of the Arts and Sciences Strategic Planning Committee (A&S SPC) in finalizing the college’s strategic plan.
In my judgment, such a decision would also adversely affect the second update I would like to share with you today. In response to requests from the faculty, I am asking the campus to form a committee to examine the potential consequences, both positive and negative, of a proposed academic reorganization of the college on our ability to provide a rich and wide-ranging liberal arts education for all CU Boulder students.
The committee, which will be chaired by Senior Vice Provost Bill Kaempfer, will make recommendations regarding the academic structure proposed in the Cumalat/Julien white paper submitted through the Academic Futures input process last fall. The white paper was referred to the A&S SPC and my office by the Academic Futures Committee this spring.
The committee also will be empowered to look at other academic organizational structures that might significantly benefit members of our community. I want the committee to discuss how such potential structural changes could be beneficial to our faculty, students and staff, with a deadline to submit its findings to me by Nov. 30, 2018. To get the full scope of its work, please read my recent letter soliciting appointees to the committee. You may nominate someone or volunteer by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am seeking nominations for the committee through April 25 and will announce its composition on April 27. While the committee will include a majority membership of Arts and Sciences faculty, staff and students, it will also include representatives from across campus, as the fortunes of our largest college are not self-contained but share interconnections across all of our colleges, schools, centers, institutes and programs. I anticipate some membership overlap between this committee, the A&S SPC and Academic Futures, so that each committee can remain informed of what the others are doing.
Should the committee’s report recommend significant leadership changes to the College of Arts and Sciences, we will re-engage the issue of long-term leadership for the college with respect to the new structures proposed. If no major leadership structural changes to Arts and Sciences are recommended, I will order a national search for a new dean to be launched as quickly as possible.
I am grateful to each of you for the vision, hard work and collaboration our campus community has demonstrated this year in taking a bold look at our academic structures and at the research, teaching, scholarship and creative work these structures enable.
In my judgment, there is not a university in the nation that is asking a tougher array of defining, future-setting questions. I know at times this work has been difficult, but I strongly believe it will help lead us to a CU Boulder that is well positioned to meet the rapidly evolving needs of our students, faculty and staff—and to work together to address the humanitarian, social and technological challenges of the future.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs