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Scope, process framed for academic structural review

Three committees to gather input for 20-year assessment

Contact: Heather Smith


​The following information about CMU's first review of academic structure in 20 years is being shared by President George E. Ross and Provost Michael Gealt. 

The first section contains the related verbiage from Central's updated strategic plan and is followed by definitions of scope and process.

"We all need to look with open minds for synergies among colleges, departments and support units — for ways to enhance the student experience and advance CMU's academic leadership," Gealt said.

"I encourage all of us to think creatively. To imagine the future," Ross said. "This is the time to ask questions and share ideas. President John F. Kennedy once said, 'Change is the law of life.  And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.'

"Yes, the possibility of change makes us uneasy. Yet we must continue to evolve in order to serve students well and stay in front of changing demographics and societal needs," he said.

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Advancing Excellence: CMU's Strategic Plan, 2017-2022
Imperative I: Nurturing Student Success

Central Michigan University provides a transformative education to prepare students for successful careers and fulfilling lives. Successful students complete their programs of study in a reasonable amount of time and are well prepared for careers and/or postgraduate study. Alumni perceive their CMU education as a sound investment.

Strategy 4

Examine the organizational structure of the academic and administrative divisions for ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness that will enhance student success. 


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What is the scope of this effort?

For the first time in 20 years, we will examine CMU's academic structure — both colleges/departments and the noncollege areas of the provost's office — and units that directly support and impact students' academic experience.

The goal is to ensure CMU's academic structure enhances our ability to deliver a quality education and best serves the needs of our students as they prepare to be highly employable, have rewarding careers and contribute to their communities.

Identified issues that fall outside of structure and are not directly related to students' academic experience will be recorded and shared with the responsible senior officers.

This review is not focused on elimination of positions or departments, nor on reducing costs. It is designed to enhance the delivery of a quality education and to best serve student needs.

The effort focuses on the academic division because changes involving departments and colleges follow a highly involved process that includes votes by departments, colleges, the Academic Senate and ultimately by the Board of Trustees.

Academic centers — such as the library and Office of International Affairs — and nonacademic units can be and are restructured at the direction of senior officers and the president, as evidenced within the past 20 months through efforts involving Advancement, Global Campus and the Office of Information Technology. The Enrollment and Student Services division was created through a restructuring effort in 2011-12.

How will the review unfold?

  1. Ross and Gealt have appointed Ian Davison, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, to a two-year appointment as senior vice provost of the academic reorganization initiative. Davison was chosen for his related experience, including reshaping and combining CMU's Office of Research and College of Graduate Studies starting in fall 2014.
  2. Three committees will guide the review, soliciting input from across the university community.
    • An academic structure committee will look at college and departmental organization;
    • An academic support committee will look at the academic division beyond the colleges and at related units/teams that directly impact students' educational experience; and
    • An RCM committee will review CMU's responsibility centered management budget model used in the colleges.
  3. Nominations of individuals to serve on the committees may be emailed to Davison's administrative assistant, Christy Fultz.
  4. The Board of Trustees will review the three-committee approach and the review/recommendation timeline during its Sept. 20 and 21 meetings. After that, the provost, president and Davison will determine committee rosters based on nominations they receive and announce appointments in late September or early October.
  5. The review process will begin with a series of charrettes to gather input from as many faculty, staff and students as possible. Dates, times and locations will be announced in September or October. Davison also is accepting requests to meet with small groups. A structural review website will contain a form for submitting input.
  6. Resulting recommendations will be shared with the colleges, departments and Academic Senate in February and March 2018 for feedback and, where appropriate, votes.
  7. Any proposed organizational changes would go to the Board of Trustees in April 2018, with final board action expected in June. 
  8. Implementation of any structural changes would occur during the 2018-19 fiscal year.


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