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Department merger begins

A plan to streamline the college’s academic departments is in the early phase, according to provost Susan Steele.

Steele said streamlining the departments is necessary because “faculty feels pulled, stretched beyond what they can manage” in dealing with the administrative needs of the college.

Currently, there are19 departments, four academic deans, and 35 majors in the college at the moment. This creates “too much administration for a college this size” Steele said.

Steele said that in rearranging academic administration, she wants to “reorganize to capitalize on the strengths” of the college and to “reduce the total number of (academic administrative) units to build and focus on these strengths.”

According to Steele, the number of majors at the college has grown over the past several years, and while new majors have been added, few have been dropped. As a result, the college is struggling to offer all of the courses needed to fulfill the requirements of all of the majors.

This year public policy and MBA plus one programs became available to students. Only one major, dramatic arts and media studies, was dropped. Former dramatic arts and media studies courses are being incorporated into the fine arts and English departments.

Dramatic arts and media studies, though not directly a part of Steele’s plan to streamline, is an early example of academic reorganization at the college.

Steele said the decision to dismantle dramatic art and media studies was based on the fact that there were many majors and not enough faculty. “As a college,” Steele said, “there are two choices. One is to start adding faculty in areas of student interest. The second is to restructure options as the number of departments is reduced.”

According to English department head Ed Milowicki, “Larger departments might not be as affected as smaller departments

Steele said that she hopes “the changes will be transparent and should be neutral to students” because though the departments may change, popular and necessary courses will still be offered. “There are no real plusses or minuses for students except if we are able to move towards areas of intellectual growth for students’ advantage.”

Of her plans for growth at the college, Steele said, “I’d really like to be able to offer other languages.” However, she pointed out the need to balance new course offerings with courses that students can take if they cross-register at Berkeley or one of the other local colleges.

Some majors besides dramatic arts and media studies may disappear during the process of departmental reorganization. Though not a direct result of the streamlining process, Steele said that some majors are probably going to eventually be dropped.

“It is not necessarily the case in thinking about organizational structure that majors necessarily follow, but that is something that we need to do as well,” Steele said. One reason she gave for the need to reassess the number of majors Mills offers is that while some majors have as many as fifty students enrolled, others have as few as one student following a particular major program.