Committee analyzes ECU academic structure
By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services
Faculty and staff at East Carolina University are considering 56 options for altering the university’s academic structure offered by a chancellor-appointed committee.
Those options, released Wednesday, Feb. 15 in a report from the Program Prioritization Committee, build on an earlier self-study analyzing 277 academic programs for potential elimination, reduction, maintenance or investment.
The most recent assessment considers the current structure of the university’s three academic divisions – Academic Affairs, Health Sciences and Research and Graduate Studies – as well as the alignment of ECU’s 13 colleges and schools and 72 departments. It identifies possible movements and mergers ranging from those with a broad impact, such as consolidation of all colleges within one academic division, to those with a focused impact, potentially moving individual departments to different colleges.
“It’s like building blocks,” said PPC Chair Ron Mitchelson, a geography professor at ECU. “Now we’re actually looking at how to assemble them and how they fit together.”
Chancellor Steve Ballard formed the committee in May 2011 and tasked its 13 members with identifying opportunities for long-term reallocation of university resources, prompted in part by continuing fiscal challenges. ECU took a 16.1 percent budget cut in state funding for the 2011-2012 fiscal year following four consecutive years of state budget cuts.
“Our university’s current organizational structure is the result of decades of decisions; some well considered and some ad hoc,” Wednesday’s report states. “If given a clean slate, it is possible that we would purposely recreate our existing structure, but it is also possible that we would adopt a different one.
“With reorganization, we could witness improved efficiency (decreased costs) and effectiveness (improved environments for collaborative behavior).”
To identify specific scenarios for restructuring, the committee is enlisting the help of ECU faculty and staff. Each college and school will host at least one forum to discuss the options presented Wednesday, and the committee will circulate an online survey via email later this month.
“The goal here is to see if there might be significant academic administration savings out there,” Mitchelson said, who added that committee-selected scenarios would be too limiting.
“We needed to hear from campus.”
The report urges people to consider the options for change as independent of one another. The committee will distribute scenarios emerging from faculty and staff input by March 30, along with the associated potential cost savings.
ECU libraries and some academic support units are also under consideration for possible modifications to organizational structure, though no options or recommendations were ready for release Wednesday.
The complete structural change analysis and other documents are available at the committee’s website: www.ecu.edu/ppc.