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Following are answers to frequently asked questions. New questions and answers will be added periodically.

(updated 12-10-18)

Why are we reorganizing our academic programs and structure?

SIU’s academic programs and structure have remained largely unchanged in a changing higher education marketplace. To revitalize our programs in order to attract students, we need to better align programs that relate to each other in order to create opportunities for greater collaboration among students and faculty. We should also add new programs in high demand areas, reinforce essential and strong programs, and end programs that are weaker and attracting fewer students.

How will the academic structure change?

The university currently has programs offered through 42 academic departments organized under eight colleges and the schools of law and medicine. A new structure would bring the programs currently housed in academic departments under larger schools housed within colleges. Departments as they currently exist will be eliminated as programs are brought together under the new schools. A new structure will streamline our administrative structure, support flexibility and responsiveness, reduce administrative costs, build synergy that will reinvigorate our academic programs and generate administrative savings.

How does/will academic reorganization lead to administrative savings?

We anticipate that savings will be generated with the elimination of department chair and some associate dean positions, a reduction in the number of deans, and the addition of stipends for school directors assuming additional responsibilities. The actual savings will depend on the final number of schools and colleges.

How will that savings be used?

Savings will be reinvested in current essential and strong programs that have opportunity for expansion and in new programs. Savings may also be used to support recruitment and retention initiatives for programs.

What is the process for reorganizing programs?

The academic reorganization process is complex. Some steps spelled out in our collective bargaining agreement, some defined by constituency group and college operating papers, some rooted in our standing campus practices, and others required by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Here is a short synopsis:

  • Once proposals are developed, they are shared with faculty members in affected programs, who have a contractually-defined time period of 90 days to review and discuss proposals for reorganization – in this case, the creation of schools. This can be extended to 120 days upon a vote of the faculty who would be affected.
  • Following the discussion and consultation period, a “program change plan” reflecting a new version of the proposal after consideration of all feedback is developed. It is shared with the affected academic units, Faculty Senate, the Graduate Council and the Faculty Association for the second phase of the review process.  Each program change plan will include a “reasonable and moderate extension,” or RME, form. Many on campus will be familiar with the RME process, which is defined by the Illinois Board of Higher Education for modification to an existing program or administrative structure.
  • Once approval or additional feedback from groups has been received, the university can complete the RME and forward it to the system president for approval, continue discussion and possibly revise the proposal based on feedback, or table the proposal.
  • Once the president approves an RME, it is sent to the Illinois Board of Higher Education for final review and approval.

 You can see the status of the proposed schools here.

What is the expectation of the Illinois Board of Higher Education?

The university has consulted with the IBHE, which has advised the RME process described above is appropriate for reorganization.

What is the process for reconfiguring and renaming colleges once schools have been approved?

Once all the proposed schools in a college are approved, the college structure will be vetted through the same RME process as the schools, but without the RME process required by the collective bargaining agreement for the creation of a new school.

What is the timeline for implementation?

Although the original goal was to have all of the schools on the same timeline, discussions and processes for individual schools are going at different paces. The university is now planning to move each school forward on its own timeline in order to ensure that there has been adequate time for thoughtful deliberation and the submission of alternative proposals. This means there will likely be a mix of schools and departments at the same time for the immediate future.

How is feedback being collected?

All feedback continues to be welcome and encouraged. The chancellor’s office has been working with the Faculty Senate and Graduate Council to receive feedback through formal mechanisms. In addition, feedback has been gathered at meetings as well as through an online feedback form.

How will academic reorganization help stem enrollment decline?

Our academic programs will be stronger due to the synergy and knowledge created by cross-disciplinary collaboration. Stronger programs will attract strong students. It will also free resources needed to reinforce and add programs to meet student demand and need. Finally, better aligning programs under schools will make it easier for prospective students to find what they are looking for and see more career paths, and we will be better able to market programs to students based on their interests.

Where does the Graduate School fit in this plan?

The graduate school will continue to serve students. The few programs that currently report to the graduate school will be moved to the appropriate school and college.

Where does the library fit in this plan?

Library Affairs will remain unchanged in terms of structure and will continue to be led by a dean.

How will the restructuring impact the university’s upcoming reaccreditation visit from the Higher Learning Commission?

The purpose of reaccreditation is for the institution to show that it is continuously evaluating its own quality. For purposes of reaccreditation, the institution must provide compelling evidence that it is constantly engaged in a culture of improvement. Moreover, student persistence and completion are currently national priorities in higher education and figure prominently in the Higher Learning Commission’s criteria for reaccreditation. Not acting to reorganize would reflect a lack of a culture of continuous improvement and a lack of responsiveness to recent trends in student enrollment and retention. The Higher Learning Commission maintains that higher education must encompass the diversity of society, currency of the curriculum, and expectations for student performance. Further, the commission is poised to evaluate the institution’s “wise management” of its resources. Taking steps toward broad, institutional change runs parallel with preparing for a successful reaccreditation.

What will the impact of reorganization be on alumni and donors who are loyal to particular units?

In most cases, we believe that alumni identify most closely with their degree programs and faculty. With very few exceptions, their programs and faculty will not change. Everyone in the university community may continue to engage with alumni as they have in the past, helping graduates and supporters remain connected to programs and the greater university. Many alumni and donors have already reached out to express their excitement about the reorganization.

How will reorganization affect the marketing of programs?

The new organizational structure will allow the university to increase focus on program-related marketing so that students can more easily find programs in a broad area of interest, such as health or sustainability, as well as specific programs within that area. Until recently, most university-level student recruitment marketing has been focused on promoting SIU rather than specific programs. There has been little centralized funding to support marketing of individual programs, meaning that some programs were better equipped to promote themselves than others based on departmental resources. The reorganization supports a shift to a more strategic, program-focused approach that will provide greater visibility to ALL programs through better targeting of message and materials. Planning is underway.


How will academic reorganization affect students?

By bringing faculty and students who have similar programs and interests together in newly aligned schools, we hope to create greater synergy and new opportunities for new programs and additional experiential, hands-on learning. Restructuring will also allow us to make sure that students have access to our most experienced faculty, many of whom currently hold administrative roles that keep them from teaching and research.

Will academic reorganization affect a student’s ability to complete the program in which he or she is enrolled? For example, will students have to worry about having to take different core classes they may not have needed in their previous school?

Requirements for current students will remain the same; they will be able to continue their current programs through graduation based on the requirements specified in the Undergraduate or Graduate Catalog as of the date they enrolled in the program. Degree We will ensure that we deliver on our commitments to students enrolled in every program.

Will academic reorganization affect the name of my degree or what it says on my diploma?

No. The names of degrees will not change under the proposed reorganization, and the name of the college listed on your diploma will the original name of the college you are graduating from at the time you enrolled.

Will funding levels for graduate assistantships change?

Currently, about 1,200 students have assistantships, and we anticipate that this number will remain largely unchanged for next year, with the exception of some assistantships that may be affected by the “instructor of record” change described below. The longer-term plan is to grow graduate student enrollment, in part by increasing the number of assistantship opportunities supported by grants. Graduate assistantships will continue to be supported through state and other funds across disciplines, as well. Assistantships funded in multiple ways will help grow graduate enrollment and support graduate students in fields of study across campus.

Will the university continue to support year-long funding for international graduate students?        

Yes. There has been no change in this commitment. The university works with individual units to identify and support need.

How will this plan impact graduate enrollment?

The goal is to increase graduate enrollment and opportunities by fostering an environment for faculty to build interdisciplinary graduate programs that will attract students as well as grants and other external funding to support them. For example, if a goal is to grow the number of Ph.D. students to 300 by 2025, we need to create capacity to serve students through re-envisioned programs and develop interdisciplinary research initiatives in high-demand areas that will attract grants to support that growth.

Will graduate programs be eliminated or consolidated in the restructuring?

Restructuring itself does not affect graduate programs. Several majors or degree programs were identified for possible closure as part of the Financial Sustainability Plan that was approved by the Board of Trustees in July 2017. This is separate from the restructuring initiative. After restructuring, the addition, elimination or consolidation of programs may be initiated at the discretion of the faculty, and such proposals for program change will be considered according to established campus practices.

I’ve heard that graduate students will no longer be allowed to teach courses. Is this true?

The university is committed to providing a world-class educational experience to our students, and to supporting professional development of our graduate students, including their development as instructors. Following careful consultation with academic leaders and graduate student representatives, the university issued a directive to campus in March 2018 regarding graduate student teaching. The directive, found here, was implemented in the Fall 2018 semester.


Will positions be eliminated as a result of the reorganization?

No. Reorganization itself is not about eliminating programs, faculty or staff but about creating new scholarly communities that will lead to innovation in teaching and knowledge creation.

What happens to faculty who a) teach in multiple programs if the programs are split into different schools or colleges under the new structure or b) may feel they are a better fit in another school?

Under scenario a) the faculty member could choose where to move based on teaching and research interests. That is, the faculty member would presumably choose the school that hosts the academic program with which the faculty member is most closely aligned. Additionally, the faculty member could seek a cross-appointment in the “secondary” school.

Under scenario b), this sort of change might be pursued AFTER the implementation of the reorganization plan. That is, in the same way that a faculty member may presently seek a change in tenure home, a faculty member could seek to move from one school to another. Such decisions would be governed by university policy on transfers of tenure/tenure home, and would be made on a case-by-case basis.

Our departmental home is where faculty tenure resides. How will the dissolution of departments affect protection of one's tenure?

The proposed reorganization will not result in any loss of tenure. A faculty member who holds tenure in an academic department would see her or his tenure transferred to an appropriate academic school. (In almost all cases, this would be the school that is home to the academic degree program most closely tied to the faculty member's academic interests and experience.) Current examples of the general model exist in the School of Allied Health, School of Art and Design, and School of Architecture. These schools house multiple academic degree programs, with faculty tenure residing in the school.

What changes should a tenure-track faculty member expect to see in the tenure process due to the reorganization?

None. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, tenure review will follow the process under the operating papers in place when the individual was hired or last promoted. However, a tenure-track faculty member could also choose to switch to the processes under the operating papers of his or her new school.

As a non-tenure-track faculty member, who will determine my contract status if the director of the proposed school is not familiar with the specific needs/curriculum of the major? 

The school director will be responsible for all faculty workload assignments, making recommendations to the dean in consultation with program coordinators. As is currently the case, deans will ultimately be responsible for recommendations to the provost on reappointments of NTT faculty. Again, this system is presently in place and operating well in the academic schools referenced above.

Can programs opt to maintain their civil service staff members?

Civil service staff will be assigned based on anticipated workload in consultation with division coordinators, school directors, deans and human resources and in compliance with appropriate collective bargaining agreements. It is possible that many staff will remain with their divisions, while others may take on centralized responsibilities in the school or in another area of campus. As noted above, we anticipate having flexibility after the reorganization to address longstanding challenges with staffing support. Decisions will be made in consultation with stakeholders the spring after the colleges and schools are finalized.


How will the current work of chairs get done in the new structure?

Most administrative responsibilities will move to the director of the school, who will work in consultation with division coordinators. Divisions are similar to what we now call “departments.” The division coordinators are faculty members who will provide critical information and input about specific programs to school directors, with their duties being part of their service assignments. See descriptions below.

Why can’t we just call them “departments” if the divisions are similar to current departments?

The term “department” has a very specific meaning in university policy and in our collective bargaining agreement. The divisions we are creating are different from departments in that they have no chair. We will be happy to work to address this terminology issue in the future in compliance with existing bargaining and policy procedures. In the meantime, hearing the concern about calling units “programs,” and understanding that current departments have multiple programs, we will use the term “division.”

What will the responsibilities of the school director be?

The director of the school is the chief academic, administrative and fiscal officer for the academic unit. The director will assume most of the responsibilities of current department chairs. Responsibilities, to be conducted in consultation with the dean and division coordinators, include but are not limited to:

  • Planning, developing, coordinating, reviewing and overseeing administration of undergraduate and graduate programs to advance learning outcomes and accreditation
  • Ensuring faculty excellence through effective recruitment, retention and evaluation of personnel
  • Maintaining effective recruitment, retention and degree completion rates of students enrolled in the school’s academic programs,
  • Providing educational leadership, fostering excellence and creating a culture of increased research, scholarship and creative activity among faculty
  • Developing and recommending budgets to the dean, as well as administering approved budgets and controlling expenditures within the unit
  • Promoting alumni relations and representing the school and its constituent divisions and programs to various constituencies
  • Conducting all business and activities in compliance with applicable law, policies and school operating papers and with the guidance and directives of the dean
  • Fostering an environment that advanced institutional goals regarding diversity and intolerance of discrimination

How can one person do the work that was once done by multiple chairs?

Keep in mind that the school model, involving a centralized administrative office working with multiple programs or divisions, already exists and functions effectively on our campus. Moving forward, the structure of each school’s administrative office may be different based on the needs of the school. For example, some current support staff could move from a division to a central school office to undertake common tasks currently being handled in multiple departments, while others may stay with individual divisions. The school director will identify and organize an appropriate structure to ensure that the required administrative responsibilities are covered effectively. We are aware that some department chairs presently engage in some administrative tasks that were the responsibility of support staff members in the past. We anticipate that transition to the school model will allow us to restore critical staffing support where it is most needed.                                              

What will the responsibilities of the division coordinator be?

Responsibilities may vary based on the complexity and needs of the division. It’s possible, for example, that there could be more than one coordinator for a large division that has multiple programs. Duties of the division coordinator may include, but are not limited to:

  • Consulting with the school director and/or support staff regarding course staffing needs
  • Providing input to the school director to inform the director’s assignment of workload to faculty
  • Assisting with division-level student concerns
  • Coordinating division-level, accreditation-related activities if appropriate
  • Assisting the school director with program assessment

How will division coordinators be selected, and how will they be compensated?

Faculty division coordinators will be selected in keeping with the to-be-created school operating papers. Prior to establishment of School Operating Papers, faculty division coordinators will be selected by the school director following substantive consultation with the faculty of the divisions. We endorse the view that the divisions should have significant latitude and authority in recommending the division coordinators. The role of division coordinator will be a service assignment that is similar to that sometimes used currently for undergraduate and/ or graduate program directors. The amount of “course release time” will depend upon the complexity of the division or program. Depending on the complexity of a school and its divisions, summer appointments for division coordinators may be offered.

How will school directors be selected, and how will they be compensated?

School directors will be appointed in keeping with university hiring policy (as is currently the case for appointment of department chairs). Searches for school directors could be internal to the school or could be external national searches. School directors will be individuals with faculty appointments who have an additional administrative professional assignment, just as directors and chairs do now. Compensation for school directors will be determined at the point of hire in the same fashion that compensation for department chairs and school directors is currently negotiated. We anticipate that interim director appointments will be made at the point that the schools are initially established. Such appointments would follow typical campus practice for making interim chair/director appointments, including close consultation with faculty in the school followed by a term appointment as interim director pending a formal search for a permanent director. Compensation for interim directors is presently governed by the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Faculty Association (base salary plus 10 percent during the time of service as interim director).

How will deans be selected, and will current deans remain in their positions?

At the launch of the new organizational structure, dean or interim dean appointments will be decided on a case by case basis based on a number of factors, including discipline and status of an individual dean’s contract. In cases where a current dean is not appointed as dean of one of the new colleges, an interim dean will be appointed at the beginning of the fiscal year pending a formal search for a permanent dean.

When will director and dean appointments be made?

Once both the schools and the college they will be a part of are approved by the IBHE, the university will move forward to initiate appointments, interim appointments and searches based on the policies and factors described above.

How can the voice and input from individual divisions and programs be protected under the new structure?

This can happen in multiple ways. For example, each division will have a coordinator who will represent the division with the school director and others. In addition, collaboratively developed operating papers can define representation on school committees in a manner that ensures representation. Faculty will also have input into the hiring of school directors in accordance with university hiring policies.


Would the majors and the curriculum stay the same but just be housed within a new school? 

Yes. Degree programs would be housed within a school headed by a director, who would handle many of the administrative functions currently handled by department chairs. Prior departments would be reflected under the new model as "divisions" within the schools. The curricula of the degree programs would not change, nor would the faculty teaching the curricula. 

Will faculty maintain control of curriculum decisions?

Currently, faculty propose curriculum changes that go through a review and approval process as articulated in department or school Operating Papers. This process will not change, except that curriculum proposals will come through a school curriculum committee rather than a departmental committee. Faculty, via the operating papers, will define how the curriculum committees are constituted and how they operate. The administration has indicated that it is committed to supporting development of curriculum committee structures that allow for disciplinary oversight of curricula. College-level curriculum committees and constituency group review of curriculum proposals will continue as is currently the case.

Will majors be eliminated? 

Majors will not be eliminated solely due to academic reorganization. Several majors or degree programs were identified for possible closure as part of the Financial Sustainability Plan that was approved by the Board of Trustees in July 2017. Majors will not be broadly consolidated as part of the reorganization unless the faculty chooses to do so. For example, there would not be a social sciences major with specializations in sociology, psychology, political science, etc. Rather, the majors in sociology, psychology and political science will remain.

What is the status of the Africana Studies major?

There are no current plans to eliminate the major. A goal is to develop a plan through which we can apply the expertise provided by Africana Studies and affiliated programs to support and enhance the cultural competency of all SIU students and those students who are interested in obtaining a degree in this specialty. 

Will there be new programs?

The proposal includes ideas for new programs that might be appealing to both faculty and students. Ultimately, decisions about whether to move these or other programs forward will rest with the faculty in the school.


How will budgets be managed? If my department currently has a budget for a special initiative, will that funding now be part of the overall budget for the school?

General operating budgets (often referred to OTS) will be managed centrally by the school director, who will serve as fiscal officer and will consult with division coordinators about anticipated needs. Accounts set up to support specific initiatives will likely continue to exist and will be funded through the same process that is currently used, starting with the dean’s decision regarding allocation of funds to schools. (Note that primary investigators will remain fiscal officers on their grants.)

Can divisions retain existing departmental operating papers?

No, since departments as currently defined will not exist. Each school will develop and submit new operating papers for approval. Article 5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Faculty Association requires that the Operating Paper of a newly created school be completed by May 1 of the academic year in which the school is established.

How can we get operating papers completed before the restructuring takes place in the new fiscal year?

Operating papers will not be created until after schools are created. As noted above, the Operating Papers must be final by May 1 in the year restructuring takes place. We anticipate that in the meantime, schools will, in consultation with faculty, develop a core group of operating principles and procedures that will guide operations until the Operating Papers are approved and in force.