March 18, 2019

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SIU Colleagues:

I’m pleased to report that the Illinois Board of Higher Education has approved the creation of seven schools as the first phase of our academic reorganization plan. The schools, which will initially report to the provost’s office pending ultimate assignment to an academic college, are:

  • School of Biological Science, bringing together programs in biological sciences, microbiology, plant biology and zoology.
  • School of Applied Engineering and Technology, bringing together programs in technology and information systems and technologies (electronic systems technologies and technical resource management).
  • School of Earth Systems and Sustainability, bringing together programs in geography, environmental resources and geology.
  • School of Health Sciences, bringing together programs in allied health (dental hygiene, health care management, mortuary science and funeral service, physical therapist assistant, radiologic sciences and nursing, pending the program’s approval by the IBHE) and the Rehabilitation Institute (communication disorders and sciences, rehabilitation counseling, rehabilitation services).
  • School of Justice and Public Safety, bringing together programs in criminology and criminal justice, paralegal studies and public safety management.
  • School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, bringing together programs in psychology and behavior analysis and therapy.
  • School of Computing, including computer science programs.
Approval from the IBHE launches the first phase of our academic reorganization. It paves the way for increased multi-disciplinary collaboration that will provide new opportunities for students and faculty while preserving academic programs and pathways for current students. It also allows us to reinforce our focus on the education of our students and creation of new knowledge.

The approval process for these schools has involved many people along the way: faculty from each program, the provost’s office, the Faculty Senate and Graduate Council, the system office, the Board of Trustees and ultimately the IBHE. Everyone has worked hard to make this happen. I am grateful for your efforts, your collaboration through sometimes challenging conversations, and your patience.

Now, it is time to turn concept into reality. We have several steps ahead in order to launch the schools July 1 as planned.

Highlights of these steps follow. Additional details will be provided to faculty and staff in the merging units as we move forward. You can also review the online FAQ for additional information.

  • Establish working groups: The provost’s office will work with faculty, administrators and staff from each approved school to create working groups to gather and provide input, identify issuesand opportunities, and help address details as schools are created. The goal of these groups will be to partner with the provost’s and other offices in support of a smooth transition.
  • Secure leadership for the schools: One of the first orders of business will be to seek input from the academic units regarding leadership of the schools. Given our implementation time frame, it will be possible, if appropriate, to conduct internal searches for permanent directors. Searches and hires will be handled following university policy, just as they are now.
  • Assess staff structure: Establishing the schools provides an opportunity to evaluate supporting services with an eye toward greater efficiency and effectiveness. We will engage thoughtfully with directors, faculty and staff through each school’s working group to assess the best structure to support operations going forward. We have committed that no continuing positions will be eliminated as the result of academic reorganization.
  • Develop operating papers: Once each school has launched, faculty members will begin development of new operating papers, which must be finalized by May 1, 2020.

There is much exciting, constructive work ahead. I am confident that we are up to the task. Many faculty members have told me that they have been eagerly awaiting the IBHE approval and are energized by the opportunity to explore new teaching and research opportunities, as well as the creation of new programs, within the context of a multi-disciplinary school.

I am personally excited because I believe that higher education must take steps like this to remain relevant, and SIU is among those leading the way. I must credit the vision of Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, the dedication of Provost Meera Komarraju, and the commitment of our faculty for this significant accomplishment as we enter our 150th year.

Finally, as we move forward, it is important that we reinforce to all of our current students that their individual academic programs remain in place and their progress toward graduation will continue as planned. This administrative reorganization of our academic programs has no impact on the curriculum or degree requirements for current students. Ultimately, we hope students will benefit from being part of a larger scholarly community that gives them more opportunity for cross-disciplinary engagement.

Sincerely

John M. Dunn
Interim Chancellor