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AUA Restructures the Organization of Its Academic Units

On April 23, Interim Provost Der Kiureghian announced a major restructuring of the organization of academic and research units of AUA. The new organizational structure is a result of extensive discussions involving a broad spectrum of the University community, starting during the strategic planning meetings in the summer of 2011 and continuing through the fall and winter quarters of the current academic year.  The details of the new organizational structure were worked out during a series of meetings of the university administration including the president, the provost and vice presidents of finance and operations. The Board of Trustees of the University has endorsed the reorganization plan, which will become effective July 1, 2012, in anticipation of the start of three new undergraduate programs and one graduate program in the fall of 2013.

The new organizational structure collects the academic units of the University in three Colleges: The College of Business and Economics (CBE), the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), and the College of Science and Engineering (CSE).  The CBE will house the existing MBA programs, the planned MS program in Economics, the planned BA program in Business, as well as the Center for Business Research and Development (CBRD). The CHSS will house the existing master’s programs in Law, Political Science and International Affairs, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language, the planned undergraduate program in English and Communications, as well as three research centers: the Legal Resource Center (LRC), the Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis (TCPA), and the Center for Research in Applied Linguistics (CRAL). The CHSS will also oversee General Education courses of the undergraduate programs. The CSE will house the existing master’s programs in Industrial Engineering and Systems Management and in Computer and Information Science, the planned undergraduate program in Computational Sciences, and the Engineering Research Center (ERC). The disposition of the master’s program in Public Health as well as the Center for Health Services Research and Development (CHSR) and the Acopian Center for the Environment (ACE) is still under discussion. One possibility is that an expanded Public Health program together with the two centers will form a fourth college, tentatively named the College of Health and Environmental Sciences.

The new organizational structure offers significant advantages. First, it is a scalable model that will allow the University to grow as it introduces new programs, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Second, having multiple academic programs within the umbrella of a single college will enhance interdisciplinary teaching and research, which are keys to high-quality education and scholarship. In fact, to further encourage interdisciplinary interactions, artificial boundaries between the disciplines will be avoided by not creating departments for the degree programs. Rather, the faculty within each college will “belong” to the college and not to the specific degree programs. However, each degree program will have a “Program Chair,” who will work with the dean of the college to administer the teaching and curricular activities of the program. This structure will foster interactions among the faculty with diverse backgrounds and create an environment that encourages collaborative teaching and research. Third, the new structure will enhance the diversity of the teaching programs. The present “silo-like” organizational structure of the degree programs into separate departments and colleges does not allow recruitment of full-time faculty. This is because programs are small and no individual instructor can teach more than a few of the diverse set of courses within the program; furthermore, it is not desirable for students to take too many courses from the same instructor.  Collecting a set of degree programs into a single college will allow sharing of faculty resources. As a result, students will benefit by experiencing a more diverse set of faculty expertise and teaching styles. No doubt, the new organizational structure will also enhance interactions among students with diverse backgrounds. Finally, the new structure will allow sharing of human and material resources for both degree programs and research centers, thus permitting economies of scale and growth. 

In his April 23 letter, the Provost also announced the following appointments effective July 1, 2012:
Dr. Tom Samuelian as the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences,
Dr. Aram Hajian as the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering,
Dr. Catherine Buon as the Associate Dean of CHSS for General Education.
A search for the Dean of the College of Business and Economics is currently underway. Program Chairs for each of the degree programs will be appointed in due time. All these academic leaders will serve in residence.

“We strongly believe that the new organizational structure will significantly enhance the quality of our teaching and research programs and improve our academic administrative operations,” says Interim Provost Der Kiureghian. President Boghosian adds, “Our strategic plan calls for a fourfold increase in our student population and a threefold increase in the number of our faculty by 2017.  It was important to put in place an organizational structure that could scale with that kind of growth.  At the same time, it is important for all to realize that none of our existing degree programs are changing.  We will continue to offer all of the master’s degrees we do now, and more.  The changes are designed to ensure that the students in those programs are exposed to more faculty, and more interdisciplinary scholarship.  The goal is to create a richer educational experience for all our students.”

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