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COLA Committee Proposes Downsizing 10 Departments and Schools to Three


College of Liberal Arts | Photo by Diana Jaber | The Wright State Guardian

Wright State University (WSU) College of Liberal Arts (COLA) plans separation into three schools among retrenchment, retirement and declining student enrollment. 

Planned separation 

The COLA Reorganization Committee, created under outgoing Dean Linda Caron, concluded its discussions, finalizing its report Monday afternoon. 

The report outlines the Committee’s directive of reorganizing the school while using the limited resources available to the College. Included in the report are current faculty and student data, along with proposals presented based on this data.

Proposals include separating COLA into three schools: the School of the Arts, the School of the Humanities and the School of the Social Sciences. COLA is currently comprised of 10 different schools. 

Current majors will be divided into these Schools based on subject matter. 

Languages, political science, and international affairs-related degrees will move to the School of Social Sciences, art and theater-related degrees will move to the School of the Arts, English and related degrees move to the School of the Humanities.  

The names of the schools are subject to change as the report moves through the approval process. 

Course changes 

According to the report, the Committee recommends that COLA conducts a review of its course offerings. This review expected to take place, spring 2022, will determine what departments can be combined.  

The Committee also proposed changes to major and minor data collection and emphasized interdisciplinary collaboration among the departments. 

Report data 

Facing retrenchment, retirement and decreased student enrollment, reorganization was necessary to ensure the College’s future.

“This situation requires extensive curricular reform in many of our departments and programs if we hope to safeguard the integrity of the Liberal Arts at WSU”

the report states

According to report data, a 50% decline in faculty is projected for the coming spring semester. 

Comparing COLA and University data from 2015 to 2021-2022, total faculty in the College rests at 103 members down from 206 members in 2015. 

COLA student numbers have also decreased with 2,166 students in 2015 down to 1,394 students in 2021. 

Departments with the greatest declines include art, liberal studies, English, media studies and political science. 

In 2015, 304 students were a part of the English major program, in fall 2021, only 165 students chose this department. 

While the College’s overall numbers declined, departments like acting, theatre, art history and classics saw an increase in students in 2021. 

The decline in English majors and political majors is reflected with graduate students. 

Future process

This reorganization is the largest restructuring of the College.

“The committee acknowledges that this process, the most significant reorganization of the College of Liberal Arts since its inception, is being conducted in a climate of layered crises,” according to the report. 

Before heading to the Board of Trustees in February 2022, the committee’s report must be reviewed by Dean Caron. Dean Caron must also hold forums to receive feedback about the projected plans according to the report. 

According to Daniel Zehringer, chair of the current School of Music and COLA Reorganization Committee member, the report was sent to Dean Caron on Nov. 1, 2021.

Jamie Naylor

News Reporter