University to consider academic restructuring

In the midst of cutbacks, the University of Vermont is beginning to look into a comprehensive academic restructuring.On Monday, Feb. 9, UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel gave a new task force the charge of exploring possible restructuring schemes, including looking at the possibility of consolidating all seven undergraduate schools under one ‘Executive Dean.’ “The overriding goal is to recommend changes in how we structure and manage the academic enterprise that will produce higher levels of student and faculty success,” Fogel said in an e-mail to the members of the task force. “[Fogel] is not asking for a real detailed blueprint. He is asking for a consideration of various schemes,” Professor Bob Taylor, the chair of the task force, said. “If any of them look promising, that would require a next step.”Specifically, Fogel and Taylor both said that the task force would work to improve such things as student mobility from college to college, student retention rates and collaboration between faculty. Despite the fact that the charge comes during a time of financial cutbacks, the task force is not specifically dealing with financial concerns when making their recommendations.”We’ve not been given the order to come up with a plan based upon financial constrictions,” Taylor said. “But we need to come up with a plan that will be compatible with financial realities.”Taylor also said that the prospect of such a restructuring caused anxiety among faculty, but said that it was “understandable and that that is perfectly normal.””People worry about whether or not restructuring would actually improve things or whether it would make it worse,” Taylor said.However, he stressed that the plan was in very preliminary stages and that it would probably be a long time before anything changes. “If the president sees anything of merit, he would then need to develop a plan in more detail,” Taylor said. “This is not going to happen next semester.”