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UB offers more details of its academic reorganization

August 9, 2018

Days after the University of Bridgeport announced a major academic reorganization, details of the new structure began to emerge but officials still won’t confirm which or how many senior staff are leaving.

“There are some confidential elements to that,” Provost Stephen Healey said on Wednesday, adding “its a modest number.”

UB announced on Monday it was restructuring as a way to redirect resources, streamline a top-heavy administration and make the experience more intimate for students. UB’s 14 schools and programs are being immediately clustered into three colleges. Instead of 14 deans, there will be three deans, all reporting to Healey.

The university, on Wednesday, released a list of where program and majors will fall between the three colleges they have created: Arts and Science, Health Science and the College of Engineering, Business and Education.

Manyul Im, who came to UB from Fairfield University in 2014, will serve as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In that college will be the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design, School of Professional Studies, and programs formerly offered at the College of Public and International Affairs and the School of Arts and Sciences.

Carol Papp, hired by UB as the founding dean of the revived nursing program in 2015, will be dean of the College of Health Sciences. That college includes the Fones School of Dental Hygiene, School of Nursing, College of Chiropractic, Physician Assistant Institute, Nutrition Institute, College of Naturopathic Medicine, and the Acupuncture Institute.

Tarek Sobh, at UB since 1995, will be dean of the College of Engineering, Business and Education. He also serves as UB’s Executive Vice President.

“This reorganization will not only streamline administrative functions, it also will unencumber these talented faculty to return to the classroom, where they can better serve students,” said UB President Dr. Laura Skandera Trombley, who took over on July 1.

The call for more transparency

In a letter to faculty, Healey emphasized no faculty, programs or majors have been cut.

“The main gain is strategic,” Healey said. “The uniting of faculty groups so they get to share ... That is where the real energy is.”

Most students, the provost added, care about professors more than directors or deans.

Some alumni care, however, and say the announcement left them with questions.

“This change was not clear or transparent,” Constance Vickers, who graduated from UB’s College of Public and International Affairs in 2011, said. “It is a huge change and for us to have no details ... I am relying on Dr. Trombley but I have a lot of concerns.”

Vickers said she was taught by experts in the field and is not yet convinced a program which trains people to work in places like the United Nations will continue to exist within a College of Arts and Sciences. She said she is part of a Facebook chat group of about 30 CPIA program alumni who are all concerned.

Thomas Ward, who was dean of CPIA, said the program will continue, just under the College of Arts and Sciences where he will teach in addition to other functions. A Center for International Study and Exchange will be created to support study abroad formerly supported by CPIA.

“I welcome her strategic and her academic leadership.” Ward said of Trombley’s changes.

Elsewhere, there will be changes at the top, according to Healey’s letter to staff.

The school of Design, now under the College of Arts and Sciences, will be shopping for an new director. So will the schools of business and education. It is unconfirmed if the deans who were in those roles are staying.

In health sciences, the only thing changing, it seems, are titles since most of the programs must follow professional, licensing and accreditation standards.

“All the separate programs will still be separate programs,” said David Brady, Vice Provost of Health Sciences. “Deans will become the directors, associate deans will become associate directors.”

Marcia Prenguber, until now dean of the College of Naturopathic Medicine, confirmed she is still there, with a new title of director.

“I will continue to lead the program as previously. I have been doing some teaching in the program, and will continue to do that,” Prenguber said.

Also still in place are Michael Ciolfi in the School of Chiropractic, Jennifer Brett in the Acupuncture Institute and Theresa Horvath in the Physician Assistant Institute.

The Fones School of Dental Hygiene will continue to be led by Marcia Lorentzen, who indicated late last year that she is retiring. She will serve as director until a replacement found, Healey said.

All the directors will report to Papp, who was formerly dean of nursing. A new director is being sought to head nursing.

A big advantage to the new structure, Brady said, will be the melding of faculty into a more cohesive unit within each college.

“So I think it is a good thing,” Brady said. “I am very positive about it.”

The odd pairing?

Of all the alignments the one some have questioned is the grouping of engineering, business and education.

“I’ve not seen that particular combination before, but then I see new things every day,” said Barbara Brittingham, of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Kristin K. McCabe, with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, said she doesn’t know of an institution that has made the precise move that Bridgeport is making, but noted education often gets paired with other areas because of its interdisciplinary nature.

In Connecticut, Eastern State University has business administration and education, along with communications, kinesiology and physical education within one college. The University of Hartford has a College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions.

Business and engineering also sometimes find themselves under the same college, according to Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

And Jennifer Widness, president of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, said Sacred Heart University is moving its computer engineering program to the former GE Campus along with its school of business and school of education to encourage greater collaboration.

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