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Members of the ECU community shared responses to planned academic reorganization during the ECU Faculty Senate meeting March 20. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Scenarios to emerge from feedback on academic reorganization

March 21, 2012

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

A handful of scenarios will be released March 30 detailing how East Carolina University’s academic units might be reorganized.

The chancellor-appointed Program Prioritization Committee will craft the scenarios based on feedback gathered through meetings with deans, an online survey and a dozen forums over the last month. Those will include estimated cost savings associated with each possible move.

“I’m very thankful for the level of participation,” said committee chair Ron Mitchelson on Wednesday. “There’s a lot more precision in the next step.”

More than 2,200 faculty and staff responded to the survey, which polled the campus about 57 options for reorganization of ECU’s academic units released in a white paper Feb. 15. Some would have a broad impact, such as consolidation of all colleges within one academic division, while others are more focused, like potentially moving individual departments to different colleges.

In response, the committee received between 40 and 50 statements of opinion from colleges and departments across ECU. Some of the input offered in those statements was aired aloud Tuesday at a Faculty Senate meeting scheduled specifically to discuss the 57 reorganization options – some with campus-wide impacts and others affecting single departments.

In that meeting, Brody School of Medicine faculty requested that a division for Research and Graduate Studies remain part of the academic structure. Faculty from the College of Human Ecology and the College of Health and Human Performance expressed their desire to stay intact, as did representatives of the College of Fine Arts and Communication and the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. Each explained that synergy exists under the current structure.

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“Please leave us and let us do well,” said professor Intae Yoon of the Department of Social Work, which is housed in the College of Human Ecology. “Let us stay on course. Let us not be distracted.”

Many said they would be willing to accept programs if other colleges are dissolved. Associate professor Kimberly Heidel, from the Department of Nutrition Science, was the only person to say Tuesday that her unit was interested in relocating.

A few faculty members continued to question the purpose of considering reorganization.

“We’re comfortable in our current homes,” Mitchelson said, “But there’s some discomfort coming with these budget issues that we face.”

ECU took a 16.1 percent budget cut in state funding for the 2011-2012 fiscal year following four consecutive years of state budget cuts. Mitchelson reiterated to the Faculty Senate that continued budget cuts prompted Chancellor Steve Ballard to form the committee in May 2011. Because of the importance of identifying potential monetary savings, some faculty members are reserving judgment until fiscal assessments are released with the scenarios.

“I have trouble ordering from a menu without prices,” said Dr. Charles Boklage, a member of the faculty senate from the Brody School of Medicine.

The options for reorganization build on a prior phase of research by the committee, which targeted specific degree and certificate programs for investment, reduction or elimination. That report has already gone to the chancellor. Following another period of discussion across campus in April, the committee hopes to narrow the scenarios to one recommendation.

Ballard said Tuesday that it is unlikely a decision on reorganization will be made until the fall semester begins, assuaging fears that many faculty members might be away for the summer when changes are announced.

“I’m going to take my time and get lots of input,” he said, adding that he’s aware many constituencies would be affected by any change.

For more information or to see documents produced by the Program Prioritization Committee, visit

ECU faculty members shared their responses to proposed reorganization plans during the ECU Faculty Senate meeting.

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