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The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

Simpson is consolidating departments

Many+departments+will+consolidate+going+into+the+next+academic+year.
Kyrsten Rehberg
Many departments will consolidate going into the next academic year.

Simpson College’s 19 departments will be consolidated into 12 and the six administrative divisions will turn to four as of June 1 of this year.

John Woell, the senior vice president and academic dean, hopes this change will “provide appropriate compensation, free up some faculty time and remove barriers between faculty and students.” 

The faculty liaison committee began looking at the inefficiency of the number of departments two years ago. 

The initial structure was created when Simpson had 115 faculty members, but now there are only 82, meaning many of them have to serve on multiple different committees which require extra work from them. 

Another issue found was the chairs of the 19 departments were not being properly compensated for the administrative work they were doing. As a faculty chair, they are required to mentor incoming faculty, are in charge of scheduling, and handling the administrative budget and are heavily involved in the tenure and promotion process. 

These faculty members were found to have been doing close to $135,000 of uncompensated labor and only receiving a $1,000 stipend for the whole year. 

To address these problems, some of the current academic departments will be consolidating. Some of the departments being grouped together are graphic design, multimedia communication and speech and debate; history, religion and philosophy; math and computer science; psychology and biology; business, accounting and economics; English, world language and culture studies; sociology, criminal justice and political science; and health care administration will be grouped with health and exercise science. 

Many of these departments already share a lot of students because of their various majors, minors and extracurricular activities. 

Justin Nostrala, the graphic design professor, said it “will be a great benefit for the graphic design department to have close communication with the communication department.” 

This will also allow for better alignment between the departments. 

Under the new structure, faculty chairs will now have the option to either take a course release to dedicate more time to the administrative work they need to do, or they will receive a $3,000 stipend for the year, the equivalent of a course release in an attempt to make the compensation more fair. 

The biggest goal of the change is to achieve more efficiency for the administrative division and to ensure the proper compensation for the academic department chairs. 

Faculty are going through the transitional period right now to have the new structure in place by this summer. Last week, they elected the four new division heads and most of the department chairs have already been named. 

Now, they are shifting responsibilities from the former chairs to the new chairs. 

Most of the changes that have occurred and will continue are among faculty members –  students will not be affected in the same way. All of the programs, majors/minors and faculty that Simpson currently has will not change because of the consolidations. 

The plan is to not have much change within specific classes. 

The first year “will be a time to learn what other departments are doing,” Nostrala said. “When one department better understands what another department is doing there might be a little bit of an influence on changing some lessons or creating new ones… the big thing is that it opens up opportunities to strengthen the programs.” 

An important part of Simpson is faculty and student interaction. This change will minimize the number of faculty that have a large load of administrative work to do that stands as a barrier for the faculty interactions with students, hoping to “[provide] a better student experience,” Woell said. 

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Kyrsten Rehberg, Staff Reporter

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