ECU Board of Trustees members Danny Scott, left, and Edwin Clark listen to discussion during the July 17 board meeting. At that meeting, ECU Provost Ron Mitchelson presented the plan for reorganization for ECU's College of Human Ecology. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)


Administration to change for six departments, schools

July 20, 2015

By Crystal Baity and Jay Clark
ECU News Services

The six departments and schools that comprise East Carolina University’s College of Human Ecology will soon migrate to other colleges under a reorganization plan intended to reduce costs and strengthen resources.

Provost Ron Mitchelson presented the reorganization plan to the ECU Board of Trustees during its July 17 meeting, and the plan will now be sent to the UNC Board of Governors for consideration at its Aug. 7 meeting.

“There is a significant administrative efficiency with this move,” said Mitchelson, adding that expected savings will approach $300,000 once the plan is fully implemented.

Most units will remain located in the Rivers Building and no current employees will lose their positions.

“We’ve gone through quite a process in the past year,” Mitchelson said. “It involved a very large and inclusive committee to design the process, shepherd the process and make a recommendation to the university fiscal sustainability committee.” 

Preliminary reassignments for faculty and staff were effective July 1 with final changes contingent on the Board of Governors’ approval of the dissolution of the College of Human Ecology when the board meets next month.

The Department of Child Development and Family Relations, the Department of Interior Design and Merchandising and the School of Social Work will become part of the College of Health and Human Performance. The departments and school will stay in their current location in the Rivers Building off Fifth Street. The Department of Child Development and Family Relations also is requesting a name change to the Department of Human Development and Family Science.

The School of Hospitality Leadership will become part of the College of Business. That school will also physically remain in Rivers.

The Department of Nutrition Science has moved to the College of Allied Health Sciences on ECU’s west campus. This program realignment had been planned independent of the reorganization.

And the Department of Criminal Justice is completing the final step in the reorganization process to join 15 other academic departments in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. The department will physically stay in Rivers Building.

A total of 22 degree and post-baccalaureate certificate programs are affected. The impact on approximately 1,700 students enrolled in those programs will be minimal because each of the six departments remain intact and will move as a unit. Changes in structure will not affect student processes such as registration. Students will maintain the same academic advisors, who have been instructed to communicate with their advisees on the structural change.   

Several reassignments have occurred. Former Dean Judy Siguaw has joined the faculty in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management in the College of Business. Associate Dean Ginger Woodard has rejoined the faculty in the Department of Interior Design and Merchandising. A third associate dean position was vacant and will be used to address university priorities.

“We practiced shared governance at great length to make sure faculty were involved in the decision-making,” Mitchelson said. “The recommendations were taken directly from the faculty to the chancellor.” 

Full implementation is expected to take about one year.

The reorganization follows a 2014 recommendation of the University Committee on Fiscal Sustainability, which called for the reduction of at least one ECU college.

The proposal originated after a comprehensive study, open forums and an electronic survey conducted by ECU’s Program Prioritization Committee in 2011-2012. That work resulted in seven reorganization scenarios.

The academic disciplines in the College of Human Ecology were selected because of significant opportunities for collaboration in instructional, research and service programs while posing the least disruption to campus operations. The reorganization will result in more effective programs and support an important institutional goal to reduce administrative costs.