By Members of the COMM 3835 Advanced Journalism Class*
(TEANECK) – The report of the consultants on the restructuring of the university was issued on March 19.
The questions have just begun.
“The administrative structure needs to be determined,” Interim Dean of University College Vicki Cohen said. “And by that I mean, we have different schools right now, we have directors of those schools, we have a dean, we have administrative assistants – how is that all going to work out across campus. Will there be a dean here? Who is going to take over?”
Many faculty members are concerned that the consultants do not know enough about FDU to make recommendations.
Patrick Reynolds, Assistant Director of the School of Criminal Justice, Political Science, & International Studies, voiced his concerns to The Equinox.
“One thing that we find troubling is that this outside consultant hasn’t stepped in this building, as far as I know,” Reynolds said, “hasn’t spoken to any of our faculty members or our director. I assume he’s data-driven. I’m not sure. We would’ve felt a lot better had we been conferred with. We don’t know who this advisor was, other than the name of the company.”
Dr. Karen Buzzard, director of the School of Art and Media Studies, had similar concerns.
“My initial reaction [to the report] was I felt like it had been written by a team that hadn’t actually visited the campus on which they were writing the report,” Buzzard said. “That they had perhaps used the catalog to look at the programs offered and then sort of just lumped them together.”
Mark Farag, associate professor in the Gildart Haase School of Computer Sciences and Engineering, said retaining face-to-face contact with students is vital.
“Whatever model we ultimately decide upon for restructuring should be with the intention of enhancing academic offerings and services for students,” Farag said. “And, again, I wouldn’t support a model that I believe would negatively impact students. So if a model proposed making ITV or online courses a dominant course delivery method, rather than retaining our mainly face-to-face and small class size paradigm, I wouldn’t be in favor of it.”
Dean Cohen doesn’t foresee the plan negatively impacting students.
“My anticipation is that it will not affect the students at all,” Cohen said. “If anything, it will benefit the students because really what we’re aiming for is to develop Centers of Excellence and really build upon the excellence that we have right now. We want to increase and continue the excellence in education that we provide right now and we feel that through this reorganization we won’t be two universities or two colleges anymore, but we’ll be one university. We’re not expecting the students to travel at all.”
Marion McClary, co-director of the School of Natural Sciences, also expressed concerns.
“It seems to me that they took programs that are smaller on the Metropolitan campus and brought them together with bigger programs on the Metropolitan campus, and that’s how they got this ‘Arts and Sciences,’” McClary said. “I didn’t like the fact that it seemed like Arts and Sciences on the Metropolitan campus didn’t have a home, so to speak, because it was just listed as ‘programs in.’”
Ronald Dumont, director of the School of Psychology, said the plan seems to focus on Metro, but leaves Florham largely intact.
“I want to know, why do we dissolve University College and create schools [on Metro], but they don’t dissolve Becton College and create schools?” Dumont asked. “They [the administration] may have a very good answer to that, but clearly in the report they didn’t tell us. It just what we are projecting, but it’s not telling us why.”
The upcoming Admitted Students Day is also a concern for some.
“It would be premature to address it on Admitted Students Day because we don’t have any plan in place,” Interim Associate Dean of University College Janet Boyd said. “At the same time though, it is in the back of our minds as we talk to prospective students because we’re not sure how the structure will look like in the future.”
Buzzard was also uncertain.
“We have done this Admitted Students Day every year, so we will just forge ahead with what we’ve done and hope that it will continue, even though we don’t know,” she said.
Farag felt that the consultants’ report simply offered recommendations to build on, and that no real plan was in place yet.
“I have been at multiple meetings in which Provost Small has given her assurances that this is just an outside consultant’s report and not a ‘done deal,’” Farag said. “I am treating the report and its recommendations in this manner. So the Provost’s Advisory Committee really has to meet to discuss which, if any, of the report’s recommendations it is willing to consider, and exactly what reorganization model to recommend to the FDU faculty, president and board of trustees.”
James Kenny, professor of Criminal Justice, expressed confidence in the administration.
“Change is stressful with the unknown, and I think that’s where people get upset,” Kenny said. “Provost Small has said that she’s got an open mind, and nothing is set in stone. They are coming out to meet with us and talk, and I think that’s a positive thing, and that certainly can calm
Dumont believes that the restructuring will ultimately work out in the university’s favor.
“I think Chris [Capuano] is looking out for the university as a whole, and he may have to make tough decisions because that’s what the president does,” Dumont said. “He is doing it to make the university a better place. We may disagree with how he going to do that, but I have full faith that he’s doing it with the right intentions.”
Boyd believes that no one can know yet what will happen and how it will impact the university.
“What I’ve been saying is that the devil’s in the details,” Boyd said. “And we don’t know the details yet. And we’re hoping that when those things that get decided, that it’s all for the good. There are a lot of stakeholders involved.”
*Mona Duggan, Vanessa Gonzalez, Theresa King, Mark Lindsley, Moufatih Mohammad, Julian Oliver, Maya Page, Emily Weikl and Elizabeth White