NEW COLLEGES, NEW OPPORTUNITIES HIGHLIGHT ACADEMIC RESTRUCTURING

MARTIN, Tenn. – UT Martin academic units take on a promising new look this
fall semester as a major restructuring is fully implemented. The
modifications signal meaningful change as new academic program
opportunities emerge with reorganized and renamed colleges and departments.

The new structure distributes 22 departments within five colleges: the
College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, the College of Business and
Public Affairs, the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, the
College of Engineering and Natural Sciences and the College of Humanities
and Fine Arts.

An advisory committee, appointed by Chancellor Philip W. Conn and chaired
by Dr. Phillip Watkins, developed a proposal after many months of
deliberations. Following more discussion about the proposal, an
administrative plan was released in March. So far, the restructuring plan
appears to have broad-based support across campus, Conn said.

“Scores of faculty members, as well as some students and staff members,
have expressed opinions and suggestions in this process,” Conn said. “The
Advisory Committee on the Organizational Structure of Academic Units
performed commendably in gathering, analyzing and synthesizing a great
volume of information and opinion in the formulation of its proposal.”

“While any innovative plan prompts some feelings of uncertainty and
apprehension,” he said, “we are convinced that this structure holds
tremendous promise for advancing our educational mission.”

Watkins, who retired in May as vice chancellor for student affairs, said
the committee was sensitive to several issues in making a final
recommendation on the new organizational structure. For example, the
committee considered the relative size of the various units, hoping to
achieve a better balance of academic programs, budgetary resources, and
faculty and staff numbers within units.

“We looked for possible synergies that might be achieved by regrouping
departments,” Watkins said. “We (also) wanted to be sure that students and
their majors were well-served (through the restructuring).”

Besides new academic program opportunities, Conn says the restructuring
begins an era of new organizational dynamics and faculty interaction.
Although faculty members are not required to move physically as part of the
realignments, many see changing offices as a key factor in the new
structure succeeding.

One example is political science faculty members who were among the first
to change offices in line with the restructuring. Drs. Richard Chesteen,
Vaughn May and Ted Mosch moved from the Andy Holt Humanities Building to
the Business Administration Building to join other faculty in the new
Department of Management, Marketing and Political Science in the College of
Business and Public Affairs.

Mosch, professor of political science and a university faculty member since
1970, said he was sad to leave his history colleagues in the former
Department of History and Political Science, but he sees new opportunities
interacting with business faculty members.

“One only has to look at special courses offered on-line and to military
throughout the world,” he said. “Public administration and various aspects
of business are always included. The University of Maryland, for example,
offers such programs.

“Thus, having a College of Business and Public Affairs does have much
potential. There are many government employees and private enterprises who
take advantage of programs that combine business and government.”
Vaughn May agrees with Mosch in seeing interesting possibilities with the
restructuring.

“I think some fascinating scholarly combinations are possible,” May said.
“In particular, the application of marketing principles in political
campaigns is an interesting topic worthy of exploration. I know of several
universities that are creating new programs in campaign management.”

Other departments are moving quickly to make similar changes, but Conn said
realizing the full potential of the modified organizational structure “will
be evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.” However, he sees a revitalized
UT Martin academic organization emerging.

“The key factor in ‘making it work’ is the positive action of faculty
toward maximizing the potential of the new structure, with its additional
opportunities for program development, interdisciplinary collaboration and
academic synergism,” Conn said.

Watkins added, “I think academic program quality will be improved by having
better balance. The new arrangement should allow some programs to grow and
better serve students.”