Spectrum - Volume 18 Issue 25 March 28, 1996 - Colleges take first steps toward merger

A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor , a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Colleges take first steps toward merger

By Sandy Broughton

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 25 - March 28, 1996

Virginia Tech's colleges of Human Resources and Education have taken the first significant steps towards merger.

In addition to numerous administrative and committee meetings during the past three months, the faculties and staffs of the two colleges met Friday afternoon for an information exchange session-the first meeting of the two groups since the university announced the merger January 22. The merger becomes effective July 1, 1996.

"We are at the beginning of something that will be modeled across the nation and envied by the entire campus," Janet Johnson, interim dean of the College of Human Resources, told the group of about 100. "I predict the new college will not simply be a college of integrated studies, but a college of carefully orchestrated building blocks to solidly serve individuals, families, and communities."

In a program that was punctuated by good-natured laughter and applause, Johnson referred to the often-used "merger-as-marriage" metaphor, and said that "at least the betrothal didn't start with a blind date. We know each other. Many of us have worked together for years in program areas, graduate committees, university committees, team teaching, and in our work in the community."

The deans, department heads, and other leaders in the colleges made brief presentations on their programs' histories and current status. Informational displays and handouts were arranged along the walls of the meeting room.

"I am pleased this day is here," said Jay Mancini, department head of family and child development. Noting his department's long-time collaboration with elementary-education programs, Mancini predicted that "between the two organizations we can take a new approach, a vibrant approach to what we do in the state of Virginia."

"This session allows us to explore the differences in the two cultures of the colleges that are coming together," said Wayne Worner, interim dean of the College of Education. "This is a unique change process, with great potential and opportunity. We look forward to the merger. We think it will be a good one. We think this is a great start to a great marriage."

A small group of administrators met again early Monday to discuss the organizational structure and functions of the two colleges, with an eye towards accomplishing a full merger by July 1998. The group discussed differences and similarities in the way each college handled promotion and tenure, faculty representation, accreditation, grants and contracts, finances, personnel, graduate and undergraduate studies, summer school, off-campus programs, and special projects.

Worner identified representation as one of the major challenges during the next year, and reminded the group that the merger transition is not slated for completion until 1998. "The important task for the coming year is to create the conditions for a favorable merger to happen-not to make it happen right away."

The executive boards of the Human Resources and Education staff associations have also met to discuss similarities and differences in their operations. A joint meeting of the two associations is slated for this spring.

A 16-member search committee is in the process of reviewing applications for the position of dean of the merged College of Human Resources and Education.