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Impact of USF budget changes on students still unclear

In the wake of a $50.4-million budget cut, USF made massive changes to its academic structure to save money by streamlining administrative services.

Administrators said, however, that it is too early to tell how students will be negatively impacted by these changes, if at all.

The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) was originally reorganized into three main schools, which umbrella the appropriate departments and schools. College administrators have scrapped this idea, however, and are working on a different organizational structure.

Four departments and schools were relocated from CAS and moved into a separate college. These academic entities will join five other departments and institutes to form a college that focuses on mental health. This college has yet to be named.

The School of Architecture and Community Design (SACD) is no longer a freestanding school and has joined the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). This college will be renamed to reflect all of its schools and institutes.

Find your school or department below to see what to expect for the fall semester.

College of Arts and SciencesAdditions: • Department of Economics • Institute on Black Life • Institute for the Study of Latin America and the CaribbeanSubtractions: • School of Aging Studies • Department of Criminology • Department of Mental Health Law and Policy • Department of Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling

Over the summer, CAS was redivided into three main schools, each housing the appropriate schools and departments. The college, however, has not completely embraced this new structure and is reevaluating its options.

“It’s been organic and it’s kind of evolved,” Interim Dean Eric Eisenberg said. “We’re in the process of figuring out what the school system will be.”

CAS is planned to run as it did during the 2007-2008 school year, with minor differences, such as the four departments that were removed to create the unnamed college focusing on mental health.

The first restructure of CAS was a “starting point for conversations” about dividing the college, said Eisenberg.

“As we began to explore those different clusters, one made a lot of sense and the other two, we weren’t too sure about,” he said. “Rather than forcing it, we said we’re going to take this year to work it through.”

Provost Ralph Wilcox said that he’s willing to explore alternatives to realignment, as long as the proposals are faculty-driven.

The college will wait until its full faculty returns for the fall semester before discussing any plans, Eisenberg said. He hopes to have a plan by the end of the fall.

Though the college will be reworking its governance structure over the semester, Eisenberg said he does not think that students will feel any negative impact.

“Fundamentally, they’re not going to notice any differences,” he said.

Newly created college • Department of Aging and Mental Health • School of Aging Studies • Department of Child and Family Studies • Department of Criminology • Department of Mental Health Law and Policy • School of Mental Health Studies • Department of Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling • School of Social Work • Louise de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute

It’s too early to tell what changes students in this newly created college will experience, said Dean Junius Gonzales.

“There will probably be no changes immediately because it’s only been eight weeks,” he said. “It’s just departments and schools moving under a different umbrella.”

The college’s No. 1 priority, Gonzales said, is to not disrupt the students as the departments transition into the new college.

Wilcox expects the college to take a little longer to get organized than the other colleges that have been realigned, he said.

“We’re not going to rush that process,” he said. “These sort of transfers deserve time and careful deliberation.”

Any changes to the students’ daily academic life would be for the better, Wilcox said.

“If there’s no value, we’re not going to change it,” he said.

The new college will give these departments the chance to collaborate in research and team teaching in ways they haven’t done before, Gonzales said.

“All of the departments are incredibly excited to contribute to the common goals they share,” he said.

College of Visual and Performing ArtsAddition: • School of Architecture and Community Design

Architecture students may have to deal with a few changes in the fall, but not because the school has become part of CVPA.

“Because this is an administrative change, I don’t think there will be a significant change,” said Barton Lee, associate dean of CVPA. “The (college) isn’t coming in and changing the curriculum.”

The school, however, has lost one staff position because of budget cuts. That position handled a lot of the advising appointment scheduling and permits, which will be handled by other staff members. As a result, students may experience some changes to those processes as the staff learns them.

“There may be (some changes), and I say that because the staff position lost in the budget reduction managed some of those actions,” said Lee, who will serve as interim director for SACD starting Sept. 1. “It’s not clear how different this will be.”

Though the school will have to deal with internal changes, Lee said the partnership will “open up opportunities that haven’t existed.”

“Even though we’ll be located on opposite sides of the campus, there’ll be a common link,” he said.

How CVPA and the newly created college will get their namesThe faculty and staff of the new college and CVPA will submit new names for the colleges.

CVPA is waiting for its full faculty to return for the fall to start the process, but the newly created college has already begun submitting names, Lee said.

“It’s a multiple step process,” Gonzales said. “Everyone nominated names-over a hundred names came in.”

Wilcox and University President Judy Genshaft must approve the names, Wilcox said.

Wilcox also said he is confident the nominations will be good.

“I have every confidence that reasonable and bright faculty members will determine the most academically grounded names,” he said.

Neither college has set a deadline to be named, but Gonzales said he would like to name the college as soon as possible.