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Recommendation to restructure

After nearly a year of investigation and discussion within Northeastern’s academic community, the Office of the Provost released a white paper today recommending a reorganization of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Criminal Justice. The Faculty Senate will be discussing the recommendation at an upcoming meeting.

The 15-page white paper proposes restructuring the College of Arts and Sciences into three distinct colleges: a College of Science, a College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and a College of Arts, Media and Design. The College of Criminal Justice would become a school within the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.

“We believe that this restructuring is a necessary response to take advantage of the opportunities and address the needs that have arisen as a result of Northeastern’s transformation to a more academically selective institution with a higher research profile,” said University Provost Stephen Director.

The new structures will “better align academic departments that share educational and research goals and approaches, giving them more power to advocate for resources and project a clearer identity to the outside world,” said Director.

The white paper is the culmination of a nine-month process to investigate a possible restructuring of the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Criminal Justice. The process began with the formation of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Organizational Structure of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Criminal Justice, in December 2008. The committee released its report in late May, and the primary outlines of the restructuring came into sharper focus at a University-level retreat held in mid-June to discuss the report.

The retreat, which included faculty, students, department chairs, and staff from the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Criminal Justice, members of the Faculty Senate Agenda Committee, and other academic leaders at the University, reached a consensus on the desirability of the three-college model.

Following the retreat, the provost’s office continued to meet with academic leaders in the two colleges, conducted further research to follow up on issues raised at the retreat, and developed financial models for the various options.

The proposed realignment of the academic disciplines includes the following:

  • In the College of Science: the departments of Biology, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Earth and Environmental Science, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology; and interdisciplinary programs in Behavioral Neuroscience, Biochemistry, and Environmental Studies.
  • In the College of Arts, Media and Design: the School of Architecture and the School of Journalism; the departments of Art + Design, Music, and Theatre; and interdisciplinary programs in Interactive Media and Cinema Studies.
  • In the College of Social Science and Humanities: the departments of African American Studies, American Sign Language, Economics, English, History, Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Philosophy and Religion, Political Science, and Sociology and Anthropology; the School of Criminal Justice and the School of Public Policy And Urban Affairs; and interdisciplinary programs In Human Services, International Affairs, Law, Policy and Society, and Linguistics.

A broad variety of details need to be worked out, including the placement of the departments of Communication Studies and Education; the placement and organization of the School of General Studies and undeclared majors within the University; and a host of administrative and logistical issues, ranging from space and staffing to student recruiting and admissions.

The white paper noted that the University would name task forces to address these next steps. Northeastern would also convene search committees for the deans of the three new colleges and for the new School of Criminal Justice.

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