CHRE holds first meetingBy Sandy Broughton
Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 01 - August 29, 1996
The newly merged College of Human Resources and Education held its first college-wide meeting last Thursday.
"We are a very different entity and a much larger enterprise than either Education or Human Resources was before [the merger]," said Janet Johnson, dean of Tech's newest college. "Our breadth and depth of subject matter, and the extent of expertise we contribute to the university and beyond, gives us opportunities none of us would have anticipated a year ago."
Opening remarks for the first college-wide meeting were delivered by Eliza Tse and Terry Wildman, faculty association presidents of, respectively, Human Resources and Education. The two former colleges are working in concert this fall to achieve the merger approved by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors last spring. All existing programs will continue, with new opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Included in Johnson's remarks was a statistical profile on the new College of Human Resources and Education:
With a total of 2,862 students enrolled in Human Resources and Education programs, the new college ranks third in enrollment among Virginia Tech's eight colleges.
The college has just over 1,700 students in bachelor's-degree programs, making it the College of Human Resources and Education fourth in undergraduate enrollment at Tech.
With more than 1,100 master's and doctoral students, the College of Human Resources and Education ranks second in graduate enrollment among Tech's colleges, just behind the College of Engineering.
Human Resources and Education's combined alumni base totals 21,108, the fourth largest Tech college in numbers of graduates.
There are 149 faculty members in the College of Human Resources and Education.
Combined research expenditures for the college total more than $4 million.
Johnson was appointed dean of the new college shortly before the merger became official July 1, 1996. This summer, an interim steering committee composed of the dean, the presidents of the Human Resources and Education faculties, and administrators from both disciplines fashioned the initial steps in the merger process.
The merger is slated for completion by July 1, 1998, though progress has been more rapid than expected. "Things are moving faster than we thought they could," said Johnson. "We did not expect to be at this stage until next spring, but each time we get together we find ways in which we complement each other, and ways of doing things together that make sense. We are coming together in ways we never thought possible."
Already in place is a team-based administrative structure to handle the essential "nuts-and-bolts" tasks of running the new college, such as fiscal management, student services, recruitment of new students, extension and outreach, and program planning.
The university has approved a governance representation plan, which allows faculty and staff associations of the two former colleges to continue representation on governance bodies as separate but equal entities for the 1996-97 academic year, with incumbents allowed to complete their terms even if it results in duplicate representation for a short time. The alumni associations have combined their activities.
Summer-orientation programs for new students were merged to unite Human Resources and Education. A "point-of-entry" directory-modeled after one from Arts and Sciences-was also developed so that the immediate needs of college constituents could continue uninterrupted throughout the merger.
This fall, the merger process will continue and be expanded to include representatives from all sectors of the new unit. An advisory committee of about 40 members-including the faculty, staff, students, Extension, and administration-will work with the dean to address merger issues such as governance, representation, curriculum, academic department structure, and cross-discipline collaborations. Sub-committees will be open to participation by all college constituents. "I want this to be an all-inclusive process," Johnson said. "Everyone is important, everyone is a member of the team. No idea will go unconsidered."
University support of the new College of Human Resources and Education has taken the form of $200,000 in funding support over two years for collaborative initiatives incorporating Education and Human Resources disciplines. Jerry Niles, interim associate dean for the new college, has been charged with overseeing collaborative ventures. "True, meaningful collaborations will not be a matter of diluting ourselves," he told the faculty. "Collaboration is an opportunity to strengthen our identities as we work on common problems. We will still have separate roots, but they will be entwined in a new way." A College of Human Resources and Education Committee will set the criteria for distribution of the collaboration funding, subject to the provost's approval. Proposals for collaborative initiatives will be taken this fall.
"Two things we will keep in mind in the coming year: be flexible and have a sense of humor," Johnson said. "We are off to a fast start, but we will take the time we need to make this merger a success."