By Seán McGlone- Editor-in-Chief
There are big changes coming to the Academic Affairs division at Lasell. Five new schools are being established as opposed to the current set up of a variety of different departments and majors.
In an email sent to Lasell employees over the summer, President Alexander attached the “Report of the Senior Management Team to the Lasell College Community Regarding Actions Approved by the Board of Trustees.” This report outlined a number of changes that will take effect starting in January 2018 and continue over the course of the next five years.
The five new schools being established are: School of Business, School of Health Sciences, School of Communication, Design & Technology, School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Education, and the School of Fashion. Each school will have their own Associate Dean, as opposed to the department chairs Lasell currently has.
Neal Hatem, the current chair of the Math and Sciences department, says he’s looking forward to getting back to teaching. “I came here to teach and I can teach all day, but when I’m doing administrative stuff, which I don’t mind being a leader among my department, but I would just rather teach,” he said.
While most institutions that go through similar change usually are struggling, Vice President of Academic Affairs Jim Ostrow says Lasell is different.
“We’re unusual in that we decided to do this from a position of strength. We haven’t been struggling at all, we’ve been doing better and better each year and so that’s a great position to be in where you’re engaging in these analyses not for fear of decline, but in order to seize opportunities for getting better, both in quality and in size,” said Ostrow.
“The thing I see as a big positive for our program, being in with the school of business, there can be a lot more integration across classes, like event management and sport management there’s a lot of stuff they can share and resources,” said Chair of the Sport Management Department Dan Sargeant.
Changes will also include the formation of a Health Science program and an Information Technology program as well as the creation of a master’s program for Athletic Training and Exercise Science.
“I think these changes are long overdue,” said Luis Lopez-Preciado, Assistant Professor of Fashion. “I think that if we really are going to face a lot of the challenges that the academic environment is facing nowadays, we have to prepare an environment where people are not in such strict delineated fields and interdisciplinary is the way you’re going to work professionally. So, I think that the new academic structure is going to facilitate that.”
Some majors will be consolidated together, such as Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, Sport Management, Hospitality and Event Management, Resort and Casino Management, International Business, and Entrepreneurship majors will all be combined into one unified Business program. In addition, certain majors like English, Finance, and Communication will have certain concentrations eliminated or consolidated.
“There were a couple of majors that we decided, now students are in those majors so we’re not closing them now, but we’re not accepting new students in them,” said Ostrow “they’re still listed in the catalog. You’ll notice if you look in the catalog they’ll be some majors that say ‘not admitting new students,’” he said. These majors are Applied Mathematics, Applied Mathematics with Secondary Education, Applied Mathematics with Elementary Education Concentration, Arts Management, Environmental Studies, Humanities, and Human Services.
While some students may be concerned that Lasell is no longer accepting new students into their majors, students currently enrolled in these majors as of Fall 2017 will be able to complete their degrees through Spring 2021.
“[Students] should feel throughout their experience that the fact that we’re not admitting new students should have no bearing on the quality of their experience, and the quality of their degree, absolutely we’re committed to that,” said Ostrow “The quality of those degrees is strong and will remain as strong as any other degree, right through graduation.”
Ostrow says that these majors were chosen because they do not seem to have great potential in drawing new students. “By closing them we could focus our energies in existing and new degree programs that do have that potential, it was that simple,” said Ostrow.
“I still don’t know how this is going to work, nobody does this is work in progress but I’m hopeful that for someone like me I’ll get to go back to doing what I love, which is teach more and I’ll have less responsibilities even if I’m the program director, because they might have a math program director I’ll still will be able to focus more on my kids and that’s why I’m here, to teach students,” said Hatem.
The restructuring will also include the combining of a number of courses that consistently have small numbers. However according to Ostrow this does not mean that the school is going to start having giant classes. The college will also look into the number of required courses for each major to see about giving students more electives.
“I think it has the potential to be a very positive thing, I think there’s definitely going to be a rough adjustment period because it’s been the way it’s been for so long and now you’re changing so everyone’s going to be uneasy about what their new roles are and that kind of stuff,” said Sargeant.