Reorganization of CAS and SCS to Move Forward

Posted: May 12, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Rey Banks

George Mason’s Board of Visitors (BOV) voted yesterday to reorganize the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the School of Computational Sciences (SCS), with the result being a newly formed College of Science (COS) and College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (CLAHS). The two new colleges will be financially effective July 1, 2006, and programmatically effective fall semester 2006.

The impetus for the reorganization came from faculty in the sciences, who desired a more coherent administration of inter-unit science degrees, an ability to present a clearer picture of Mason sciences to the outside world, and new opportunities for undergraduate science programs.

From the CLAHS standpoint, advantages of the reorganization include the opportunity for improved participatory governance, enhanced attention to existing and possibly additional interdisciplinary programs, and the opportunity for greater articulation and visibility for the university’s educational and research programs dealing with social institutions, cultures, and human behaviors.

“The college’s name combines a commitment to tradition and responsiveness to the newest challenges,” says Provost Peter Stearns. “‘Liberal arts’ evokes a style of inquiry and recognition of human achievement vital to research and education alike.” The term “human sciences” captures new, often interdisciplinary interests that utilize humanistic, social scientific, and even natural scientific explorations into the human circumstance, Stearns explains.

CLAHS will include the CAS departments and current programs not in the physical or natural sciences or mathematics. Many local administrative units, stand-alone interdisciplinary programs, and departments will be relatively unaffected by the proposed organizational change. “The strengthening of current interdisciplinary programs is among the most important priorities facing the new college,” says Stearns.

COS will serve as the nexus for research and education in the natural sciences and mathematics. The college will have a central mission to create and disseminate knowledge in mathematics and the natural sciences, provide outstanding scholarship in concert with excellent teaching, and develop human and technical resources required to address the current and future needs of society. The college will provide a unique educational experience for scientists, educators, and other professionals in Northern Virginia and the capital region. Some departments to be included in the initial structure of COS include Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Climate Dynamics, and Environmental Science and Policy.

A detailed report of the CLAHS proposal is available here, and the COS proposal is here.

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