Planning begins for UMR transition to ‘zero-schools’ model

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On October 2, 2006

As part of a move to streamline the University of Missouri-Rolla’s academic administration, UMR Provost Warren K. Wray recently announced the formation of five committees to examine the impact of eliminating the university’s four main academic units.

The administrative restructuring, announced by UMR Chancellor John F. Carney III last April in his “State of the University” address, will eliminate the deans’ positions at UMR’s three schools and college: the School of Engineering, School of Management and Information Systems, School of Materials, Energy and Earth Resources, and College of Arts and Sciences. Under this restructuring, the academic department chairs will report directly to Wray, rather than to the deans of their respective schools.

The changes will take effect next July.

Wray, who became provost in August, is coordinating the restructuring effort, now known as the UMR Organizational Restructuring Plan, or ORP. Between now and mid-January, the five committees will work with Wray, Carney and the entire UMR community to consider ways to ensure that the responsibilities currently handled by the deans and their staffs will be transferred to the appropriate departments and offices by July 1.

Wray characterizes the planning effort as “a significant change for higher education institutions.”

“By flattening our organizational structure, UMR is taking a bold step toward what we believe will be a leaner, more flexible administration that will be more responsive to the changes in higher education that are occurring at lightning speed,” Wray says.

The five restructuring committees will play an important role in the process, Wray says. He announced their creation in a Sept. 18 memo to all UMR faculty and staff.

About 60 UMR faculty, students, staff and administrators are involved in the planning effort.

Eliminating the school/college structure is intended to enhance direct interaction among departments and the provost’s office and remove the dividing lines between schools, thereby encouraging more interdisciplinary activities. Individual academic programs will not be affected by this administrative realignment and no layoffs are planned, Wray says.

Four of the committees will review specific aspects of the deans’ roles in the academic administration — from personnel issues to academic program development, fundraising and public relations activities — and will then submit recommendations to a fifth committee, the Steering Committee.

The four planning committees met for the first time on Monday, Sept. 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 26. The committees and their responsibilities are as follows:

  • The Financial Activities Planning Committee, which “will review the budgeting and financial transaction activities currently performed in the deans’ offices and recommend where and how those activities should be performed when the new organizational structure is in effect.”
  • The Personnel Resources Planning Committee. This committee “will identify the personnel positions required to accomplish those financial, administrative, academic, and outreach responsibilities and activities identified by the other committees as being essential and needed.”
  • The External Functions and Activities Planning Committee, which “will identify outreach and relations activities with individuals, organizations, and companies external to the university which will continue to be beneficial to the university and recommend how those activities will be performed.”
  • The Administrative Planning Committee. This panel will consist of “at least two subcommittees (Academic Subcommittee and Non-Academic Subcommittee)” and will “identify all deans’ office activities other than finance, personnel, and external relations which will have a continuing need and to recommend where and how those activities are to be performed.”

The four planning committees are to present their preliminary recommendations to the Steering Committee by Oct. 27. The Steering Committee will then return its comments to the planning committees by Nov. 10, and each planning committee in turn will have until Dec. 1 to present its final recommendations to the Steering Committee. By Dec. 18, the Steering Committee will present its final recommendations to Carney, who will share them with the campus community for comment until Jan. 15.

“Shortly after the chancellor’s final decision on the planning, an implementation plan will be announced and the plan’s recommendations will begin to be implemented with the goal of having all changes either in place by July 1, 2007, or ready to be launched on July 1,” says Wray.

A special website has been created to share information about the committees’ work, membership and progress. The time, date and location of upcoming meetings also will be posted on the Organizational Restructuring Plan website,

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On October 2, 2006. Posted in News