As part of larger university strategic planning and realignment efforts, Chancellor Randy Woodson announced at the N.C. State University Board of Trustees meeting this morning that he has accepted a recommendation from Provost Warwick Arden that will, in part, move undergraduate biological sciences programs and some faculty members associated with those programs from CALS to a new College of Sciences.
Under this realignment, the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences will be transitioned to the broader, more comprehensive College of Sciences. Dr. Daniel Solomon, dean of PAMS, has agreed to serve as the inaugural dean of the new college.
The decision to create the new college follows completion in March of a report by a university-wide Academic Science Program Task Force, made up of faculty representing all 10 colleges, the Graduate School and the Division of Undergraduate Academic Programs. The task force report is online at http://www.provost.ncsu.edu/governance/task-forces/academic-science/2011/documents/as-task-force-final-report-030212.pdf.
The task force was charged with determining “the best ways to enhance the natural synergies between the science programs at NCSU and to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and research while reducing administrative overhead.”
The task force recommended three models of academic structure, and among these was the creation of a College of Sciences. Creation of the new college will, according to the report, “bring visibility and focus to the university’s commitment to the sciences in general” and would “administratively co-locate the physical, chemical, biological and mathematical sciences in particular.”
Today’s announced changes are scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2013. Over the next year, a steering team and additional implementation teams will be appointed to help determine all of the specifics associated with this realignment. We have been assured that N.C. State’s long-standing commitment to agriculture and the life sciences will continue.
We do not yet know exactly how this initiative will impact the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and it is not yet known specifically which CALS faculty members will be part of the new College of Sciences. With the exception of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, I think this initiative undoubtedly will have a greater impact on CALS than any other N.C. State college, as the Department of Biology is by far the largest in the college in terms of enrollment. In the spring semester 2012, there were 1,974 students enrolled in the Department of Biology, with 1,596 of these students enrolled in the Biological Sciences program. The Department of Animal Science had the next highest enrollment at 698 students. CALS total enrollment for the spring semester was 5,660 students.
The College of Sciences Steering Team will be charged with recommending an administrative structure for the College of Sciences and a process for identifying faculty who will reside in the college. This team will be made up of deans or their representatives from the colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Natural Resources, Engineering, Textiles and Veterinary Medicine. Implementation teams will be formed to consider budget, human resources, space and development issues. According to the Provost’s recommendation, in many instances, faculty movement “will need to be assessed on an individual faculty level taking into account scholarly alignments, existing and future collaborations and faculty preference.” The steering team will make these individual assessments, with input from faculty.
The Provost’s recommendation goes on to say, “The College of Sciences will already have core strength in marine, earth and atmospheric sciences. These may be enhanced by movement of faculty whose scholarship clearly synergizes with and complements these strengths within the realm of earth system sciences. It is possible that faculty may relocate from multiple colleges to achieve this aim.”
In short, we won’t know the entire makeup of the new college until the steering team is established and begins its work.
There was talk when the Academic Science Task Force was formed of CALS and the College of Natural Resources merging. The Provost recommends against such a merger, pointing out that “both (colleges) have a long and proud history of serving their constituencies and the possible gains from enhanced synergies and efficiencies do not outweigh the risks of potential disruption of academic and outreach programs at this time.”
The Provost also recommends that CALS “undergo an internal process to optimally configure the college’s departments and programs for long-term success.” This effort is seen as both beneficial and necessary as a result of the realignment process.
Life sciences programs related to agriculture are to remain in CALS, as is funding related to agricultural programs. CALS receives designated state funding for the N.C. Agricultural Research Service and N.C. Cooperative Extension. This funding is significant, totaling approximately $60 million annually for research and more than $43 million annually for extension.
I’m sure many of you already have questions and will have more questions as this process unfolds. I am confident input will be welcomed during this process, and I encourage you to pose your questions to either the Provost’s office or the steering committee once it is formed.
And I would ask you to continue to focus on giving our students the best education possible and providing research and extension programs that respond to needs in North Carolina and beyond. The makeup of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will undoubtedly change as a result of this initiative, but our mission will not.
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences