Frequently Asked Questions

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  • To merge the administrative structure of two colleges, together with several departments from a third college, to create a new College of Health, Education and Social Sciences.
  • In addition, the new college would be administratively organized as four multi-disciplinary schools rather than as departments.
  • A new multi-disciplinary research center is also proposed; this would take longer but ideally the work of developing it would start shortly after the new college structure is approved.
The current Colleges of Arts and Sciences (Social Sciences division); Education; and Health and Social Services. The College of Arts and Sciences would become somewhat smaller, and the other two colleges would be merged into the new college. NMSU would have five degree-granting academic colleges rather than the six colleges it has now.
  • Clustering related disciplines together under unified leadership allows us to better support, recognize and reward collaboration between different disciplines. Transdisciplinary approaches to creating and disseminating knowledge produce better outcomes and problem solving. The disciplines of health, education and social sciences share a common interest in improving individual and society outcomes for everyone living in our communities.
  • The goal is to reposition these academic units for greater impact and future growth. Health programs are a high priority for growth due to the workforce development needs of the Southern New Mexico region. In the Spring of 2020, Chancellor Arvizu convened an external task force to help identify potential collaborators and growth opportunities. Many opportunities exist with various community partners, including the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine and TriCore Reference Laboratories, given its recent partnership with NMSU.
  • The University (Las Cruces campus) is currently organized into 47 separate academic, degree-granting units within six colleges, each with its own department head or director. Currently only two of these units can be considered multi-disciplinary: the Interdisciplinary Studies department in the Arts and Sciences college, and the School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership in the Education college.
  • It is important for NMSU to become operationally as efficient as possible, and to reduce administrative overhead, in order to invest as much as possible into its primary mission — teaching, research, scholarship, creativity and outreach.
  • Consolidating administrative units would reduce administrative overhead by eliminating one of two dean salaries, 2 of 4 associate dean salaries, and replacing as many as 10 department head salaries with 4 school director salaries. Business and administrative staffing could also be consolidated at a more centralized level than at present.
Yes. Currently the deans of both the College of Education, and the College of Health and Social Services, are interim appointments. If this proposal is approved by the Board of Regents, NMSU would immediately conduct a national search for a Founding Dean to lead the new college and to lead much of the administrative merger.
  • The initial proposal to establish a new college included concurrent restructuring to create schools in lieu of departments.  Given feedback received during the Fall 2020 Semester, any additional restructuring should occur as separate conversations, subject to a process directly involving the immediate stakeholders.  In other words, the faculty and administrative leadership in the academic units can determine how best to internally organize themselves within their colleges, e.g., schools vs. departments, and/or whether any other novel internal combinations are desired. 
In this context the term ‘school’ is used to describe an administrative unit supporting several distinct, but related, academic disciplines. Departments is used to describe an administrative unit typically supporting a single academic discipline.
The fields of study and the content of the academic degrees would not be affected at all. The current academic degrees would remain in place and be taught by the same faculty as before. However, oversight of the degrees would be transferred to the new college and the name of the new college would appear on the transcript of future graduates.
The proposed name is the College of Health, Education and Social Transformation. It is important during the discussion stage to know if the proposed name has support. But if not, please recall that the name of a college can always be changed at any time in the future. At this point it is most important to focus on the substance of the proposal.

Q. Have any other universities organized themselves in this way, e.g., as multi-disciplinary schools rather than single-discipline departments?

Yes; many universities have adopted this model to encourage transdisciplinary collaboration and reduce administrative overhead.  The example which has perhaps received the most attention is Arizona State University, which reorganized its entire university into schools about a decade ago.  It reported that by doing so, it transformed its capacity to undertake multi-disciplinary work while reducing administrative overhead by more than $13 million, as described in this article:  Capaldi, Elizabeth D.  Intellectual Transformation and Budgetary Savings Through Academic Reorganization.  Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning (July/Aug 2009, pp. 18-27).  Another example is the University of Arkansas which combined health and education academic programs into a College of Education and Health Professions.
While the directors of the multi-disciplinary schools tend to administrative duties such as course scheduling, space and facilities, and the process of hiring and reviewing faculty, the faculty are still able to organize themselves into groups that speak to disciplinary concerns including developing and delivering the curricula of specific degree programs and providing input into hiring and tenure and promotion decisions. Joint faculty appointments will also be a means for some social sciences faculty to remain connected with the Arts and Sciences college if they wish.
We already have the example of NMSU’s Dean of the College and Arts and Sciences who currently leads disparate units (the arts, humanities, and the physical and social sciences). What is important for meeting accreditation standards is that the leader of the programs have the required credentials to lead the unit. For example, the Nursing program must be led by a Registered Nurse (an R.N.), as is the case currently with NMSU’s School of Nursing.
Aside from any adjustments that result from the ongoing budget realignment efforts, no change to units’ current revenue allocations are contemplated.  Budgets would simply be consolidated as well, in alignment with how organizational units themselves are consolidated.
If the budget situation does not get any worse, we hope that we will be able to restructure potentially redundant services over a period of a year or two and manage these shifts through normal attrition and retirement so as to avoid layoffs; if external funding is obtained to quickly start the research center, some staff could potentially shift into newly created research program support roles.
Understandably, many have asked if they would have to move to another building if a new college is created.   At the present time, there is no accompanying space plan or proposal for the new college, and it is anticipated that everyone will initially stay where they are.  The question of optimal program and office locations will evolve naturally, dependent on many factors:  what final administrative and organizational combinations are made, who is involved, and what future space priorities develop based on academic program proposals, whether or not a research center is created, and perhaps most significantly, whether we begin to think about space differently in a post-COVID environment that appears likely to include more remote work and more hybrid instruction than has been the case prior to the pandemic.  Any future space proposals would be reviewed by the NMSU Space Committee.
The sole authority to approve this organizational structure rests with the NMSU Board of Regents (RPM 4.0, C.). If the Board of Regents approves the reorganization proposal, then the NMSU administration, in consultation with the faculty, will undertake the work of determining the final administrative details.
  • Provost Parker introduced the concept to the academic leadership, faculty, staff and students of involved units as the Fall 2020 semester began. A Task Force co-chaired by the deans of the Arts and Sciences, Education and Health and Social Services colleges will assist with getting input from the NMSU community. The Task Force will conduct Listening Sessions and use surveys to get input during the month of September. A proposal will then be prepared based on the feedback obtained. The endorsement of the affected faculty will be solicited, and the proposal will come before the Board of Regents for its consideration.
  • If the Board of Regents approves the proposal, NMSU will immediately launch a search for the Founding Dean of the new college. Integration efforts will proceed as quickly as feasible with the deans of Health and Education doing as much of the work as possible until new dean is appointed. Upon arrival, new dean will continue the work of administrative integration of the involved academic units, which is expected to take a year or more to fully restructure. The new dean will also lead the effort to stand up the new research center, including seeking external grants for research startup costs from foundations, corporations and other potential funding partners.
Faculty in other academic units from across the campus would be encouraged to consider a joint appointment with the new college to foster more collaboration. A joint appointment is shared by two or more academic units, including sharing of workload allocation and base contract compensation. The workload assignment can vary, e.g., it might involve a 50/50 workload split, or it might include some other proportion. A joint academic appointment might encompass two or more academic units, or it might include research centers. The units involved are jointly responsible for supporting the faculty member in successfully balancing their obligations, but one unit must be identified as the administrative home. The respective deans would need to approve joint appointments.
FAQs updated on December 15, 2020.