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Northern reorganizes colleges, administration

Tim Leeds/Havre Daily News/[email protected]

Montana State University-Northern moved up a reorganization of its academic departments, instituting changes the first of this year rather than after the spring semester.

"It became evident we needed to make a change," Chancellor Alex Capdeville said. Before the first of the year, each of the four colleges had a dean who had both administrative and teaching duties. The four colleges were Education, Nursing, Arts and Sciences and Technical Sciences

The reorganization grouped the colleges of Education, Nursing, and Arts and Sciences into a singe college with a dean who is a full-time administrator. The departments of education and arts and sciences will have chairs who have part-time administrative and teaching responsibilities.

The dean of the College of Technical Sciences is now a full-time administrator. A new position of chair of the college will have part-time teaching and part-time administrative duties.

The nursing department will have a director, as required by the state Board of Nursing, Capdeville said.

Capdeville said Mary Pappas, the former dean of the College of Nursing, was given the position of director of nursing. That position will not have teaching duties at this time, but may be changed to include teaching duties in the future.

"We have some issues with nursing we have to fix," Capdeville said.

The Board of Regents ordered an investigation after several students in the nursing program complained to the board after 20 of 49 students failed to graduate from Northern's two-year nursing program in spring 2003.

Tina DeLapp, director of the nursing program at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, conducted the study of the program last fall. Her report listed numerous deficiencies in the nursing program and recommended extensive changes.

Pappas took over as dean of the college after former dean Trish Goudie took a leave of absence to complete her doctoral dissertation.

Northern created a schedule to make changes in the program, and Provost Cheri Jimeno said a meeting was held in December between faculty and administration. Another was scheduled for today to begin work on the changes.

Brenda Skornogowski, who teaches business in the College of Technical Sciences, said the reorganization probably won't make a lot of difference in her college, although it's too early to say for sure.

Virginia Sluiter, who teaches math in the College of Business, Arts and Sciences, and Education, said she doesn't know that the new structure will be an improvement.

"I'm satisfied with the one they have now," she said.

Sluiter said the change was probably an attempt to save money, but since it required a second level of administration with chairs beneath the deans, she doesn't think it will save much.

Some of the changes could help, she said, like having courses like math and science that are required in the education program being offered by the same college as the education program.

Sluiter said she has concerns about other possible changes, such as who makes initial decisions about changes in curriculum.

The program previously has allowed teachers of the curriculum being changed to make the first decision about moving forward with changes. If it includes people from other areas making the initial decision - such as nursing faculty making decisions about mathematics curriculum - it could hurt the process, she said.

The reorganization was done in January instead of July at least partly because Darlene Sellers, dean of the College of Education, wanted to return to full-time teaching, Capdeville said.

Jimeno said so much was occurring, including changes in the nursing department, that it worked best to reorganize now.

Greg Kegel will continue as dean of the College of Technical Sciences. The chair in the college hasn't been selected yet.

Will Rawn, previously dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is serving as interim dean of the College of Education, Arts and Sciences, and Nursing.

Rawn said he supports Capdeville's idea of more clearly establishing administrative duties. Having several people working as both faculty members and administrators created some conflicts, he said.

"I think this addresses those conflicts," he said.


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