River Falls, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents gave final approval Dec. 9 to a realignment at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls that will reduce the number of colleges from four to three, saving significant administrative costs while increasing support for employees and students.
The action by the board means that after more than a year of campus discussion among administrators, shared governance representatives and faculty, staff and students, the College of Business and Economics (CBE) and the College of Education and Professional Studies (CEPS) will be merged effective July 1, 2023, according to UWRF Chancellor Maria Gallo.
The name of the merged college will be the College of Education, Business and Allied Health (CEBAH).
“This reorganization is the product of much hard work and discussion on the part of many people on campus,” Gallo said. “It shows what we can accomplish when we focus on the goal of giving our students the best opportunity possible to succeed while being mindful of the need to be efficient and effective with taxpayer and tuition resources.”
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs David Travis said more than 50 presentations, meetings and group discussions took place to move the reorganization forward, adding the reduction from four colleges to three will accomplish several goals, including:
· Achieving greater balance among the remaining colleges in terms of the size – number of faculty, staff and students – as well as size of the budget and representation on governing groups.
· Removing barriers for collaboration across the academic programs in the current two colleges.
· Strengthening the argument for accreditation by giving programs in the newly merged college more support.
Travis said most of the immediate savings will come from reduced administrative costs: one fewer dean, for example.
“The rest will come as we recognize efficiencies within the new college through economies of scale and eliminating redundancies,” Travis said. “All of the savings will be re-invested into the new college to support new and current academic programs.”
The current two colleges share one interim dean and a national search will be conducted for a permanent dean of the new college, according to Travis.
CEBAH will have 1,900 students and will become the largest college on campus based on that metric, Travis said, adding that none of the current program accreditations – including the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – will be affected.
The new college will also be home to three schools: Education; Business and Economics; and Allied Health and Social Work.
UW System President Jay Rothman complimented UW-River Falls faculty, staff and students for coming together to propose this reorganization.
“I’m pleased by the collaborative spirit I have seen at UW-River Falls which resulted in this important reorganization,” Rothman said. “It’s a testament to the value UW-River Falls places on continuously trying to improve the student experience.”
Dawn Hukai is the current interim dean of the two colleges. She said her experience since taking the post last July shows that the merger will have numerous benefits for the campus.
“I thought going into the position that the year of running the two colleges under one dean would allow for aligning of policies, procedures and exploring new academic program offerings,” Hukai said. “I now see many areas in the two colleges that will benefit from bringing all the programs under one administrative structure.”
Gallo said she has been impressed by how the entire campus community contributed to the process that resulted in this major campus reorganization.
“A lot of people put aside their personal preferences and goals to accomplish the greater good,” Gallo said. “That degree of collaboration and cooperation is what makes UW-River Falls special.”