CAS Considers Proposal to Create New Colleges

Posted: October 21, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Stephanie Hay and Colleen Kearney Rich

More than 90 people showed up for the first College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) faculty meeting of the 2004-05 academic year. The main item on the agenda was a proposal to create two separate colleges—a college of science, to be formed by merging the CAS science departments with the School of Computational Sciences, and a college of humanities, social sciences, and interdisciplinary studies.

The impetus for the proposal comes from extraordinary growth in the sciences over the past few years and a belief that this growth can best be sustained with a new administrative structure. At the same time, the possible reorganization could provide the potential for greater visibility and focus for the humanities, social sciences, and interdisciplinary programs within the college.

Last month, Provost Peter Stearns agreed to consider a proposal from CAS Dean Daniele Struppa and School of Computational Sciences Dean Menas Kafatos. “Over time, it has become clear to me that the divisions among computational sciences, theoretical sciences, and experimental sciences are artificial,” said Struppa. “We can combine our resources and our research to be stronger for our faculty and students and to be more coherent in the way we present ourselves to the outside world.”

Two committees, one for each proposed college, will spend the next few months discussing the intellectual merits of the proposal. Their main charge from the provost is to formulate the proposed vision, mission, and goals of each prospective college. Jack Censer, professor and chair of the History and Art History Department, is chairing the committee for the proposed college of humanities, social sciences, and interdisciplinary studies, and James Trefil, Robinson Professor of Physics, is chairing the committee on the proposed college of sciences. The committee chairs will be guests at a CAS Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 15.

Committee members are responsible for gathering feedback from their academic units by Nov. 1. The committees will also be looking at structures in place at other universities. Faculty members have the opportunity to make suggestions and contribute to the discussions electronically and through a series of town hall meetings. The first town hall meeting takes place today in Mason Hall, Rooms D3 A and B at 3 p.m. A discussion folder has been set up on the Town Hall web site at townhall.gmu.edu. In the folder called Departmental Forums, look for another folder called CAS Restructuring.

Struppa will also be meeting with departments throughout the semester. His remarks to the college regarding the proposal are available online. The committees are expected to present their reports to the provost in early spring 2005.

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