By Morgan VanWickler and Lane Sulzer – Art Director and 1851 Staff
In the spring, Lasell’s academic structure will transition to five schools to combine resources and increase interdisciplinary learning opportunities. The new structure will eliminate seven majors, consolidate several concentrations and restructure a variety of majors.
As part of the academic restructuring, each school will have an Associate Dean. Aaron Toffler will serve the School of Communication & the Arts, Melissa Varao for the School of Business, Anne Trevenen for the School of Fashion, Christina Haverty for the School of Health Sciences, and Lori Rosenthal for the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education. The position of Associate Dean is designed to work to connect the industry world with Lasell. This works with Lasell’s concept of Connected Learning according to Trevenen.
“The new structural changes should both help students to feel a greater sense of identity within their own schools and to create more cross-school collaboration among students and faculty,” Varao said.
Another aspect of the academic restructuring is the introduction of new majors, like health science. Although health sciences was already listed under Lasell’s course catalog several students, including freshman Sophia DiPlacido, had to apply as an exercise science major. “The head director said health sciences is exercise science, but geared towards physician’s assistant school,” said DiPlacido.
Students have reacted differently to the changes. “I think these changes are positive since my program will be able to work collaboratively with other programs,” said senior Kyle Vonick, a business management student. Junior sociology major Nikki Glendye is disappointed with the lack of variety of courses in her major. She is hopeful the interdisciplinary learning opportunities will increase the number of courses on diversity.
“It is disappointing to see a major like environmental studies be eliminated because of the importance of climate change in today’s world,” said Lisa D’Angelo, an environmental studies major.
Chair of the Communication department Meryl Perlson says that within each school, there are a lot of student academic factors that need to be covered in regards to creating and refining courses, internships and job placement. “The focus is providing more opportunities for interdisciplinary opportunities,” said Perlson. Aside from this, Perlson says students will not see any major differences in their courses.
Faculty members hope these changes will create a curriculum that outside schools can implement into their departments. “The new leadership roles will allow for schools to lead with vision, goals, and strategic plans and will help individual departments, schools, and the institution as a whole to create more and stronger relationships with outside entities,” said Varao.
Professor Anne Trevenen has been appointed as Associate Dean for the School of Fashion. Under this school remains the three Fashion majors: design, merchandising and communication. “We’re small and this is our chance to really build on that because we have strong partnerships,” said Trevenan. “We could engage collaboratively with each other more easily, as faculty and with students.”