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College prepares for potential reorganization

By Caleb Slinkard
On January 28, 2011

Texas A&M University-Commerce President Dan Jones has submitted a reorganization plan to the A&M System Board of Regents that proposes splitting the College of Arts and Science into two separate colleges. The Board of Regents will vote on the proposal on Feb. 3. If passed, the proposal will undergo a 30-day waiting period before being approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

"If [the Board of Regents] approve it, it goes to the Coordinating Board for a 30-day posting period, whereby the Coordinating Board gives the public a chance to comment on it," Jones said. "At the end of that 30 days, if they do receive any kind of significant comment that would cause them to question the wisdom of doing it, they would get in contact with us and we would discuss it."

According to Jones, the reorganization will cost approximately $875,000 over the course of five years, the majority of which will be reallocated from other university sources.

"[The reorganization] is as revenue and cost neutral as we can get it," Jones said. "Well over 90 percent of the initial cost will be funded from reallocation of existing positions and resources. The preliminary work up by the deans showed that it will be about a $470,000 expense initially, all but $18,000 of which can be covered through reallocation. That is a lot of money in my checkbook but [the university] can find that money somewhere."

Jones thinks that the Board of Regents will pass the proposed reorganization.

"I talked with Dr. Frank Ashley about it, he said he's for it, the Chancellor is for it," he said. "The only question they are going to have is the question I would have, which is 'how much would it cost?'"

Despite the state of Texas' substantial budget deficit, Jones thought that the need for reorganization was too pressing to ignore.

"It is a question of timing," he said. "There are costs associated with the current structure. Given the fact that one college is so outsized but doesn't have a larger administration, it has trouble with routine things. That makes the whole organization less efficient."

Jones pointed out that the size of the college inhibited its ability to run as effectively as possible.

"The decision I was faced with was do we do this now despite the fact we're facing some challenges, or do we continue to pay the hidden costs embedded in the system-administrative inefficiency, lack of effective representation, impediments to planning, etc.," he said.

According to Jones, the reorganization was long overdue.

"This is an idea that was being considered long before I started," he said. "A&M-Commerce has had three colleges for as long as anyone can remember. A&M-Commerce has grown, but the structure has not grown. I look at this as kind of an evolutionary step."

The College of Arts and Sciences currently has 14 departments, eight more than each of the other two colleges. The average college enrollment in other similar universities is 1,175, while A&M-Commerce averages 3,549 students per college. Similar universities average 5.6 colleges, 2.6 more than A&M-Commerce's three.

According to the agenda item briefing given to the Texas A&M System Board of Regents by Jones, the University would be divided into the following four colleges: the College of Business (COB), the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS), the College of Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts (COHSSA) and the College of Science, Engineering and Agriculture (COSEA). According the briefing, these administrative changes reflect the input of the college faculties and chairs, and have been reviewed by the Faculty Senate and the Dean's Council.

Student Government Association President Taylor Fore thinks that the reorganization was a good move for the university.

"I think that the reorganized colleges will be better for the students in that if they have a problem, there are not as many levels of administration in between them and the dean," he said. "The dean can be more responsible for the students in the college and more influential in their lives."

Fore did have some concerns regarding the reorganization.

"I don't think that the reorganization is a good thing if it ends up confusing students or if their degree plans get changed or cut," he said.


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