Following the retirement of Dr. Robert Watson, the departments of academic and student affairs merged, leaving Provost Philip Way in charge of both departments.
Way was already in charge of academic affairs, but his responsibilities are now extended to student development, student services, and student health and wellness.
“The merger occurred over the summer when Dr. Watson retired again,” Way explained. “It is a complicated process and must be executed thoughtfully. Therefore, changes are happening slowly and piecemeal.”
Way said the goal of this merge aims to help develop the student as a whole, not just academically, but personally, civically, socially, ethically, and in terms of leadership. Overall this merge aims to a well-rounded approach to education for students.
Cheryl Norton attempted to replace Dr. Watson, but cancelled the search for a new Vice President of academic affairs. She decided Way would take on the responsibilities of both departments.
Way said Watson’s position was not replaced because there is now a Vice President for academic and student affairs separately. He took on the responsibility of overseeing both.
“There will be a new search for a senior person who will have responsibility for student affairs once there is an integrated strategic plan for the new division,” Way added. “Students will be represented on the search committee.”
Way explained that there will now more cooperation between different student services on campus because academic affairs and student affairs will be sitting at the same table more often. He believes this will result in better services for students. For example, he said the Counseling Center is now part of the Counseling and Development Department in the College of Education. This provides more hours of counseling for students and more experience for graduate students.
Way explained that he has a lot of new ideas, as do the staff and faculty in academic and student affairs. These ideas have been prioritized over the summer in planning meetings. He said the common denominator of the new ideas of the staff and faculty is wanting to see students succeed.
“It is important to make sure we are reaching to all students: residential and commuter, all ethnicities, international students, online and on-ground, undergraduate and graduate,” Way said.
Way said it is too early to tell how effective this merge has been.
“What I can say is that there is more communication and planning occurring, involving student affairs and academic affairs.”