Our goal is to create an administrative structure that best supports our campus. The work ahead will determine whether or not a change should be made to the existing college structure to better accommodate existing and new interdisciplinary programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will this affect the number and make up of colleges? Are there specific numbers we are aiming for?
Will there be layoffs?
This is certainly not the goal. The goal is to have a structure that supports and reinforces the current number of faculty, staff, and students we have.
- How do I get involved?
What is the timeline for implementation?
This timeline is fluid and evolving, as is interdisciplinarity. The work begins this next semester and will continue for the next several years.
Year One Timeline
• Late November: Nominations for college groups or Academic Affairs Interdisciplinary Council due. Teams composed in early January 2021.
• Early March: Brief proposals due
• Mid-March: Full proposals invited by Academic Affairs Interdisciplinary Council.
• Mid-April: Full proposals completed and submitted to Academic Affairs Interdisciplinary Council.
• May: Recommendations sent to the Provost’s Council
What is the faculty’s role in this process?
Faculty are integral to this process. Faculty have a critical role both on college committees, as well as the Institutional Interdisciplinarity Team. We cannot do this without significant faculty involvement. The ideas and outcomes will largely depend on the engagement of faculty at every level and phase of this project.
How will these changes affect currently enrolled students?
We have experience with this as we ushered in a new university core curriculum (WMU Essential Studies). As is the case with our general education core, they will continue their existing program.
What about the budget cuts we did earlier this year? Did that not help?
The budget cuts we’ve taken every year meet our current obligations, but tend not to structure us for the future. This effort, along with SRM, is intended to create a administrative structure that better matches our needs and serves to attract and retain students to WMU.
What do you mean by decreasing administrative overhead?
We have an institutional structure that reflects the infrastructure necessary for a larger student population. Administrative overhead, in this context, largely refers to academic administrators.
How does this relate to Rethink Smart?
The themes of Rethink Smart are purpose, passion, career, and well-being. This is the academic affairs response to purpose, passion, and career. If we can integrate interdisciplinarity thinking in a meaningful way, our students are going to be better positioned for fantastic internships and fantastic careers. It will better engage our students in creative work and research to spark passion and purpose.
This is also a response for students wanting more flexibility in their curriculum.
Are there other Universities that have used this model?
- Marymount University, Arizona State, Carnegie Mellon, University of California Merced, Loyola University New Orleans are just a few.
- There are not many examples at the undergraduate level which makes this a great opportunity to distinguish ourselves.
- To learn more, I would encourage you to visit institutional websites dedicated to restructuring initiatives or the WMU interdisciplinarity website, which contains links to several Planning Documents.
Some of our programs are rigid because of the depth required by accreditation and subsequent licensure - how can we be interdisciplinary with these rigid guidelines?
We know that many of our programs have strict accreditation and licensure guidelines. This process will not affect those accreditation standards. We recognize that these programs will decide on what is feasible and appropriate for their curriculum.
- Will staff be included in this process?
How is this timeline feasible with the current curriculum process?
This is a multi-year effort and will be ongoing as higher education and society continues to evolve. The goal is to have proposals submitted to the Academic Affairs Interdisciplinary Council (faculty, senate, and administrators) during the Spring 2021 semester. The council will then recommend programs for implementation to institutional leadership that follow governance processes.
Do we have any plans to enhance our marketing efforts?
To learn more about the Rethink Smart campaign, please visit https://wmich.edu/rethinksmart. This campaign is the result of the Think Big initiative, an engaging community-wide effort to reimagine the university’s branding strategy.
Other questions regarding the university’s marketing efforts should be directed to the Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications; although the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs works closely and collaboratively with the Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communication, the MarCom team is responsible for the WMU brand and visual identity.
What about athletics?
Athletics are beyond the scope of this project.
- How can administrative processes be eliminated and/or streamlined to also decrease workload for staff and faculty?
How does this shift work with contractual guarantees that faculty possess academic freedom in terms of their scholarly pursuits?
This process does not impinge on academic freedom. The goal is quite the opposite – to bring scholars together to examine problems from multiple lens.
How will WMU preserve the merit of conferred degrees of programs that evolve into something else?
The merit of a conferred WMU degree will not change. New programs will be an evolution of programs that exist today.
Does having the title “Provost” mean you’re valuable to the university?
I believe that all members of our community are valuable, including the Provost.
Current example: Cybersecurity
“The BS in Cybersecurity (BS-Cyber) program is a cross-disciplinary degree collaboratively developed, offered, and managed by Computer Information Systems (CIS) in the Haworth College of Business (HCoB) and Computer Science (CS) faculty in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS). Although the degree is housed in the CS Department due to current WMU systemic organization, it is considered a jointly offered degree for all purposes.
An MOU was signed between the deans of HCoB and CEAS to address course scheduling, advising, joint appointments, curriculum, marketing, student reporting, tuition, differential tuition, and other associated areas for both CEAS and HCOB stakeholders.
Both tuition under the University’s Strategic Resource Model and differential tuition will be split evenly between CEAS and HCOB.”
How does this affect the shift to a Strategic Resource Management (SRM) model?
- The new budget model will be implemented as planned, beginning July 2021.
- Transitioning to an incentive-based and transparent model designed to decentralize decision-making and align resources and accountability to university units is still critically important to the success of our university.
- If we share, we get more. More opportunity for a competitive advantage. Half of something is better than all of nothing.
In the SRM budget, revenue is allocated to the colleges using the following rules:
- 100% of undergraduate tuition revenue goes to the college of instruction
- 100% of graduation tuition revenue goes to the college of primary program based on headcount
- State appropriation will be allocated by college of primary program based on head count
For interdisciplinary graduate programs, deans of colleges involved in the program will enter into a memorandum of understanding on how to divide the tuition revenue between the two colleges.
For both interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs, deans of colleges involved in the programs will enter into a memorandum of understanding on how to divide the state appropriation based on program headcount.
Any specific questions should be directed to members of the SRM Core Team.
What is WMU's rationale for shifting culture toward interdisciplinarity during a pandemic when many people are already overwhelmed?
Being overwhelmed was part of the reason for this effort. Namely, our faculty felt overwhelmed by the number of courses that we are attempting to teach. Partnering, where appropriate, is assistive in managing our course catalogue with fewer faculty. Further, this was a natural extension of the Faculty Senate work and much interest in creating systems with fewer barriers for interdisciplinary teaching and research.
Why interdisciplinarity? Why not a push toward much improved distance learning and a plan for offering programs beyond Michigan, without needed local presence?
We are doing that now, having launched three new online only UG degrees in the past year. These are not mutually exclusive efforts.
Why not a push toward advancing basic skills development for students who struggle, and offer better academic services for all students with equity and social justice in mind?
We are doing this through University College efforts. For the last several years, we’ve participated in the Gateways to Completion project from the John Gardiner Institute. This work involves redesign of high DEW courses, the infusion of learning assistants alongside national best practices and mentors to improve outcomes for our students in courses that predict retention and persistence to graduation. Our efforts were recently awarded with the Barefoot Award for Equitable Course Design from the Gardner Institute.
What is the market need for restructuring?
Needed student competencies in the next decade; anticipated market changes in Michigan and the Midwest more broadly… Our students are telling us by their actions (multiple majors and minors), as well as success in our newest, interdisciplinary programs. Nationally and regionally, the ability to solve complex problems are noted as critical for graduate school admissions and getting jobs after college.
How is true interdisciplinarity accommodated by the new budget model across colleges?
This is handled by MOUs to split tuition. It has been done with our existing interdisciplinary programs that have been formed in the last two years.