Post Academic

Broke-Ass Schools: Kean University, the school with no departments

Posted in Broke-Ass Schools by postacademic on May 31, 2010
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"Schere" by Horst Frank (Creative Commons license)

You read the headline right: Kean University in New Jersey has a plan to cut 38 departments, consolidating them into 18 schools headed by “executive directors” who would replace typical chairs.  And Kean is no podunk university, being the 3rd largest public univsersity in New Jersey with an enrollment of 15,000 or so.  The plan to dispense with any sense of a conventional academic structure was done to save the school around $2 million, although the entire budget shortfall Kean is facing is $17.7 million, according to Inside Higher Ed.  IHE reports that the plan could go into effect by July, although claims that it will take two years to phase in the changes.

The drastic response was apparently conceived of by the school president and OK’d by the University Senate without input from the faculty at-large.  Faculty critics who dispute the Kean admin’s numbers argue that costs could even go up by replacing dept chairs with another level of bureaucracy with directors.  Per Inside Higher Ed:

“This new structure is adding an entirely new layer of administrators that never used to exist,” said James Castiglione, who teaches physics at Kean and is president of the Kean Federation of Teachers.

The union, which is part of the American Federation of Teachers, will challenge the plan on several grounds, Castiglione said. Most notably, union officials fear one of the plan’s chief goals is to convert department chairs into executive managers, who will then be removed from the bargaining unit, even though they’ll still carry some teaching duties.

More below the fold…