CALS Collaborative Systems FAQ

Do you have a question about the CALS Collaborative Systems? We want to hear from you. Ask your question using this form.


Does this new CALS framework support environmental programs, or will these programs ultimately be moved to the College of Natural Resources? 

Our environmental programs are essential to living our vision, and we want and need for them to thrive. Our aim is to provide all programs, centers and departments within a system (or across systems) the space and support to be more strategic in the way they think, work and make decisions together moving forward. It is also flexible enough to allow new programs, centers and initiatives to form. Our presentation showed some of the possibilities, but by no means was this a complete list of what could be. We see this as a tremendous opportunity for our environmental programs moving forward, and look forward to your great ideas and energy.


Why is this good for the college and for those we serve?

By improving communication and interconnectivity at the system level, we will enhance investment decisions, involve the exchange of ideas and foster a climate of interdisciplinary work that will benefit our stakeholders.

We have strong support from university administration – with an investment to co-fund 40 new faculty hires – and the continued progress toward living our vision should garner even greater support moving forward.

And fortunately, we also have strong support from our external stakeholder groups from across the state. We have heard from our stakeholders that they need us to be even more adaptive and collaborative to better serve their needs today and into the future – these new systems allow for that adaptation.


When will these changes start?

The full implementation of CALS Collaborative Systems will go into effect July 1, 2016, but the systems will start taking form immediately with their initial system meetings in January 2016.

One of the first official efforts of each system will be to provide hiring priority recommendations to CALS administration.


Will people lose their jobs, or will our jobs change?

We are implementing this infrastructure to improve efficiency in the work we do – not to cut jobs and reduce the number of people doing the great work of our college.

We are focusing on improving efficiency in how we work together and increasing strategy in our hiring practices.


Will there be major changes in leadership and structure?

With this new framework, we will be aligning departments, centers and programs of similar disciplines into four collaborative focus areas we are calling systems.

The systems will be co-lead – a permanent position held by an associate dean, and a rotating position held by a department head, center or program leader, with a one-year term.

There will also be some department head changes, as six of our existing departments will be combined to form three new departments. Announcements relating to these leadership positions are forthcoming.


Have other agriculture and life sciences institutions made similar changes?

Yes. Nearly all of our peer institutions have implemented changes to their structure and their academic, research and extension services, but our systems focus is unique.

The CALS Collaborative Systems will bring together all of our internal stakeholders – including departments, centers and programs from similar disciplines – aligning them in four Collaborative Focus Areas.

These include:
• Plant Systems
• Animal Systems
• Human and Resource Systems
• Food, Biochemical and Process Systems

These systems provide tremendous flexibility allowing department heads, center directors, and interdisciplinary program leaders an opportunity to work closer together – across disciplines within their system – to set system-wide goals and determine what strategic hires and investments are needed to garner success.


Have you already decided all of the details of the changes?

Many of the decisions have been made, but there is still ample opportunity for faculty and staff to provide insight, set goals and formulate clear processes for system implementation.

In addition to system specific efforts, there will likely be various committees focused on college-wide efforts and initiatives that we encourage faculty and staff to serve on – we want and need your help. More details on these efforts will be forthcoming.


What if we have suggestions or disagreements about the changes?

We have created an online resource platform where faculty and staff can share their thoughts and suggestions – and we want to hear from you!

We look forward to your comments and your help in living our vision.


How will this make our students better?

This new structure emphasizes collaborative and interdisciplinary thinking. Undergraduate and graduate students will have access to more diverse training options within and across the systems – providing a great value to our students.

With the increased flexibility of our systems, we can better prepare our students for career opportunities with the potential creation of new interdisciplinary undergraduate degrees – such as a Plant Protection degree – where the knowledge and skills of our students are more in line with what employers need both today and in the future.


Will the college still be divided into academics, research, and extension as well?

Yes. Nothing changes in that regard – we are still divided by academics, research and extension. This new framework however, will help us drive innovation in fulfilling our land-grant mission of teaching, research and extension.


How will this make us more competitive and more impactful from a research perspective?

This new framework will foster greater interdisciplinary interaction among all departments, centers and programs within a system, encouraging collaboration in generating new ideas and synergies surrounding the grand challenges of today and tomorrow. This allows us to bring our very best collective thoughts and energy to the table.


How will this improve our opportunities with Cooperative Extension?

These new structures will remove the barriers in the delivery of science, knowledge and innovation generated by CALS to our stakeholders, and stakeholders will feel the effects of our research at an accelerated rate.

In addition, we will make strategic investments in CES, through on-campus faculty to help drive new opportunities with our research stations across the state.


How will the role of centers and programs change for the better?

Our centers and programs are some of the strongest and most interdisciplinary/integrated programs in the college, but their voice is often muted. Our new systems-based approach allows for greater equity in decision making – providing everyone an opportunity to be heard.


How will CALS Collaborative Systems make us better?

The emphasis of our systems-based approach is to provide a collaborative framework where more inclusive decisions are made with input from all components of the system – departments, centers and programs – that lead to system-level recommendations, action plans and ultimately outcomes. This provides a more holistic, strategic decision making process that will yield greater collective results, where the system comes first and the unit second.
While the process will begin with a college-reorganization followed by the hiring of additional faculty, the goal is to create a space where new and innovative conversations, concepts and actions strengthen our college.

Do you have a question about the CALS Collaborative Systems? We want to hear from you. Ask your question using this form.