While Loyola University administrators continue to work to solve enrollment woes and eliminate a multimillion-dollar deficit created by having fewer students, the faculty has been at work drawing up plans to restructure the academic side of things, with one proposed plan abolishing four of the five colleges and creating two new undergraduate and graduate colleges in their places.
That is the more drastic of the two plans under study and apparently the one less favored by the faculty. The other plan calls for reorganizing several colleges but keeping the total number at five.
Neither plan is a cost-cutting measure or calls for layoffs, and no programs will be cut regardless of what model is selected, said Marc Manganaro, Loyola’s provost.
“This process … is not looking at eliminating or developing new programs,” he said, adding that the ultimate goal is a more collaborative environment for faculty and students.
Whatever model is chosen will see the university undergo its second major restructuring in less than a decade.
In early 2006, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Loyola underwent a controversial restructuring, known on campus as “Pathways,” that saw the creation of a new College of Social Sciences and the termination of several programs, most notably broadcast journalism, a hallmark of the university that founded and for decades owned WWL Radio and WWL-TV.
Loyola today has five colleges: business, humanities and natural sciences, law, social sciences and music and fine arts.
One proposed restructuring model would keep five colleges, including business and law, but would see the creation of a College of Graduate and Professional Studies, a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and a College of Music, Media and the Arts.
The other model would reduce the number of colleges to three: law, graduate and undergraduate.
Alice Clark, the University Senate chairwoman and a professor of music history, said that so far the Senate — comprising the faculty of all the colleges — is leaning toward the model that keeps five colleges. The Senate will vote on the plans Sept. 11.
After receiving a recommendation from the University Senate, the provost and the Rev. Kevin Wildes, the university’s president, are expected to present the favored plan to the university’s board of trustees in October.
Manganaro said the faculty began to explore the restructuring last year as other university officials began to write up a new strategic plan for Loyola.
As the faculty began to explore the options, Clark said, there was much discussion about barriers between the existing colleges and how to break them down as well as how to group together programs that might benefit from synergies.
“Crossing departmental lines or college lines can be difficult,” she said. “I think a big motivation of many of the faculty would be: How do we work together better? How do we collaborate with each other better and, bottom line, how do we serve our students better?”
The plan that calls for reducing the number of colleges from five to three would be more radical, Clark said, and not necessarily better.
“The justification I’ve heard for it is mostly that a school our size doesn’t need this many colleges, and there is talk about saving money,” such as by getting rid of two deans. But, she said, the money saved by eliminating those two positions would be negligible.
Supporters of the five-college model say it would solve some problems created in the post-Katrina reorganization, which critics believe was somewhat knee-jerk and dictated more by demands from the board than input from the faculty, Clark said.
“The faculty has really led the charge on this,” Manganaro said.
“There have been some comments reflecting some fear this is another Pathways, and the first answer to that is that much of this process has been fundamentally faculty-driven, and that makes it the polar opposite (of the 2006 reorganization),” Clark said. “This in some ways is the answer to Pathways.”
The existence of a graduate college in both models, Clark said, points to a need for greater support of those programs.
“The graduate programs often don’t get the same level of support the undergraduate programs do,” she said. “There is a sense that bringing the graduate programs together would focus some attention (on them). It is something, I think, both models try to solve.”
After the chosen model is presented to the board in October, Manganaro said, university leaders will try to begin implementing changes this academic year and have the process completed by 2016.
“The question of whether that can be done has to be answered not only by the academic units and the provost’s office but also in terms of student records and financial affairs,” Clark said. “There are a lot of behind-the-scenes systems that would have to be changed.”
Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.