University College Still in the Dark



Students and faculty learned of the restructuring of Fairleigh Dickinson University last semester. But while there have been some major physical changes on campus, the FDU community at large is still unsure of any impending changes in the curriculum.

While the academic restructuring wasn’t officially announced until late March, The Equinox reported on the outside consultants hired by the university in November of last year. Ten months and one summer recess later, the faculty of the Metropolitan campus is still wondering what the effects of the restructuring will be.

What is known, however, is that University College will undergo major changes that can affect  students and faculty. University College consists of  programs such as communications, arts and humanities. Those three programs, and many others,  may be divided amongst the Metropolitan and Florham campuses by the end of the Fall 2018 semester.

The dissolution of University College means much more than the sharing of programs between the two campuses. Not only does Madison have different programs then the Metropolitan campus, but they also differ in terms of class schedules and  faculty.

In March, University Provost Gillian Small noted how the university wasn’t planning on tackling all of the changes found in the ACTA report immediately. But for faculty members at FDU who haven’t been notified on exactly what will happen at the end of this semester, the restructuring may seem to be coming all too soon.

“I think the amazing thing to me is how they’ve kept us in the dark,” Former Director of the School of Arts and Media Studies Dr. Karen Buzzard said.

Like most faculty members on the Teaneck campus, Buzzard only knows so much about what will become of University College after the restructuring. She is aware of some of the different programs that are offered on both campuses, which offer a new set of difficulties.

The Metropolitan campus, for example, offers a bachelor’s degree in arts, something the Madison campus is lacking. Whether or not Madison will adopt that degree is still uncertain.

Not every program is set to be transferred to the Madison campus. While the changes have not been finalized, the possibility of a commute between both campuses in order to fulfill certain academic requirements concerns Buzzard. A roughly 34-mile commute would have to be made by any students taking courses at both campuses.

“If you don’t offer certain programs on [the Metro campus], would the students take that program on the Madison campus or go to another school?” Buzzard said.

Buzzard said that she isn’t opposed to changes on campus, and thinks that the money spent towards improving the physical campus is a promising investment. However, she said that talks of shifting programs and the elimination of directors positions leave much to be desired, considering that faculty were not made aware of anything beyond.

There were talks of announcements being made in the summer, according to Buzzard,  but nothing developed. With the Fall 2018 semester already folding into its fifth week, there are questions that have still not been answered.

“You would think that if they are planning to make this change by Christmas, they would have made an announcement on new arrangements” Buzzard said.

Dr. Janet Boyd, just a stone’s throw away from Buzzard’s office, isn’t sure as to what will develop from the restructuring of FDU either. She’s neither critical or supportive of any changes, simply because there hasn’t been much communicated to faculty about them.

“Because we don’t know the ultimate goal of the restructuring, it’s hard to have conversations about aligning things,” Boyd said.

The subject of the reconstruction is naturally limited, since there hasn’t been much information given to faculty from the university. Boyd can assure the Equinox of one thing, however.

“We have been told that no full time faculty will lose their jobs,” Boyd said.

Boyd does share a similar opinion to Buzzard in regards to the commute students and faculty would have to make between the two campuses. As the Director of Media Studies, Director of Humanities and Interim Director of University College, her concerns, regardless of the restructuring, are in the community on the Metropolitan campus.

“In my job as Director and Associate Dean, I need to be here for students. I can’t say ‘well I’ll be here Monday and Wednesday and [at Madison] on Thursday or Friday,’” Boyd said.

Above all else, Boyd is appreciative of the smaller class sizes and devoted faculty on the Metropolitan campus. She believes that the faculty will continue to support the students despite any concerns on the restructuring.

There are still concerns, from the FDU community as a whole, about the future of the Metropolitan campus. But the lack of communication between the university and the community means that everyone is left wondering what will happen.

Over the first few weeks of the Fall semester, the surplus of orange tape bordering new campus developments were taken down, and students were able to get a clear look at some of the physical changes on campus. Any answers on what will become of the school curriculum after the Fall semester remains to be seen.