Two new colleges join University campus

John Brown University is no longer just a University, thanks to the addition of two new colleges last month.

As of Jan. 1, the University implemented a few structural changes. The former divisions of Business and Education have been organized into individual colleges. It is unlikely that students, especially those who are traditional undergraduates, will notice much change.

Ed Ericson, vice president of academic affairs, said the adjustments were the result of suggestions made by the specialized accreditation boards for each division. Both had three program “boats”—traditional undergraduate, degree completion, and masters—that had been granting similar degrees but were reporting to different administrative hierarchies.

Ericson said members of the accreditation council for the business programs questioned the then-current arrangement during a recent visit.

They asked how things such as the strategic plan worked when these three groups were reporting to different people, Ericson said. The accreditors were not fully satisfied with the University’s answer that “it works because we are nice to each other.” They suggested that the three degree programs be integrated into one disciplinary college to increase good communication.

Ericson said the heads of the new colleges would be Joe Walenciak, former professor of business, and Gloria Gale, former professor of education. They have been given the title of Associate Dean of the College of Business and Associate Dean of the College of Education respectively.

Walenciak said the change would help with coordination between the three types of programs and would facilitate common management and planning.

The wheels of change sometimes turn slowly, Walenciak said. There are still processes and titles that need to be worked out or clarified. He sees it as a chance to challenge and build the program in preparation for a vibrant, engaged future.

The joke has been going around campus administration that lobbying for this change was Walenciak’s attempt at land-grabbing and empire-building. In reality, Walenciak said, he wanted to do it because of his desire to serve the students.

“Having a College of Business instead of a Division of Business does add some prestige,” he said. “It creates a different impression. I want our students to be able to have pride in their program.”

Eva Fast, instructor of business, said the biggest day-to-day change would be in the program’s branding and building signage.

Fast’s Principles of Marketing students are developing a marketing plan for the new college. She said it was a great chance for them to work on something that could realistically be used.

Fast said there will be a reception later in the semester to officially introduce the new college to the students.

Currently, one difference between the education and business colleges is that education graduate programs are still in-process. Graduate classes will not be offered until next fall, Gale said.

Gale said the change was important for the education programs because education is a complex, dynamic field. Thus the traditional undergraduate degree completion and graduate programs need to be aware of what the others are doing.

She said they had already been operating as a unified group. The current changes simply formalize and simplify the process. They also give people an opportunity to change tracks somewhat.

For example, Sandra Van Thiel, former chair of the education division, will be using this as a chance to step back from administration and go back to full-time teaching.

Van Thiel said it had not yet been decided who would take the job of overseeing the traditional undergraduate education program. Because of the restructuring, the role would be different than what hers had been, Thiel added.

Gale said she had been interested in moving toward an administrative role. She had been in charge of the education degree completion program, which is part of what made her a good choice for Associate Dean. During next school year, her main focus will be getting the graduate program up and running.