In its second major shake-up since Hurricane Katrina, Loyola University announced Wednesday that it will reshuffle its academic programs as part of a long-range plan aimed at coping with the university’s flagging enrollment and its multimillion-dollar deficit.
The new plan scraps a school formed during Loyola’s last, controversial restructuring in 2006, splitting its departments between a revived College of Arts and Sciences and a new college focused on programs for graduate students, professionals and nontraditional students.
The organizational changes will not eliminate any programs, and no layoffs are planned, university officials said.
“This restructuring reinforces Loyola’s commitment to create a seamless and collaborative educational experience focused not only on the student’s academic development, but on a practical, experiential education as well,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Marc Manganaro said in a news release.
Manganaro and other administration officials were not made available for interviews with The New Orleans Advocate on Wednesday.
The new university structure unravels some of the organizational changes made as part of the much-criticized 2006 plan, known as Pathways, though it does not restore any of the programs that were cut then.
Pathways reorganized Loyola into five schools: humanities and natural sciences, social sciences, music and fine arts, business and law.
As the centerpiece of the new plan, the College of Social Sciences — created as part of Pathways — will be dissolved. Some of its programs — sociology, criminal justice, political science and mass communications — will be merged with those now in the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences to re-create a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The rest of the programs in social sciences will be spun off into a new school, the College of Graduate and Professional Studies. That college will be made up of the School of Nursing, the department of counseling, the Institute for Ministry and the Office of Professional and Continuing Studies.
“The creation of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies reaffirms the university’s commitment to nontraditional education,” Melissa Lightell, the director of the Office of Professional and Continuing Studies, said in the news release. “It recognizes the significant contribution of these programs and students to Loyola’s mission of addressing the educational needs of the greater community by making these programs more accessible to students of all ages.”
The restructuring has been in the works for a year, with faculty and administrators settling on two options in the fall.
In addition to the plan that was announced Wednesday, officials also considered a more radical proposal to lump all programs into one of three schools: undergraduate, graduate and law. That move had some appeal from a financial perspective because it could have allowed Loyola to eliminate two deans, but school officials said the cost savings would have been minimal.
Pathways was criticized by some as a knee-jerk reaction to the post-Katrina flooding and school closure that did not take faculty concerns into account and was responsible for the end of several programs, particularly the university’s well-known broadcast journalism department.
By contrast, faculty representatives have said the new organizational structure was largely driven by the faculty.
Officials touted the reorganization as part of a long-term plan, known as Transforming Loyola 2020, to boost enrollment and deal with the school’s financial issues.
Loyola faced a large drop in enrollment in 2013 that blew a hole in its budget and set off a series of cost-cutting measures including buyouts and early retirement offers. The university also has kicked off a fundraising campaign aimed at raising $100 million by mid-2017.
It is not clear how the reorganization will affect those financial problems, though officials said it will be taken into account by a consultant working on the issue.
“The new structure, coupled with the university’s strategic plan, Transforming Loyola 2020, and its Faith in the Future campaign, will help move the university forward into the next decade toward its goal of becoming a truly collaborative, learning-centered institution,” Manganaro said.
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