Program chairs gain leadership with position restructuring
This academic year, the five dean positions, one for each school, were morphed into three assistant provost positions. The assistant provost position sits between the provost and the department chairs in the chain of command.
Some of the responsibilities that used to be fulfilled by the school deans are now being fulfilled by the department chairs, providing more of a leadership role and control over the program.
Nancy Waldron, Assistant Provost of Longe School of Business and School of Health Sciences said, “There's now an assistant provost who oversees either one or two schools in a number of programs. So for example, I'm an assistant provost of the School of Business and the School of Health Sciences. I have two schools that I manage with faculty. I oversee Lasell Works, so they took all of the things that the dean did and dispersed them to the three new assistant provosts.”
Lori Rosenthal, Assistant Provost of the School of Humanities, Education, Justice & Social Sciences has been with the school for 16 years. Rosenthal explains when she started, there were no deans; each program was run by a department chair. Those chairs would then report to the vice president, now the provost.
Rosenthal says the communication got lost as Lasell grew because there were a lot of department chairs reporting to a single person. “That was getting very unwieldy and people were getting frustrated. It was just too many direct reports for one person,” Rosenthal said. “We weren't getting things done efficiently because we were always waiting for approvals or things to happen.”
Because of this problem, it was decided five years ago to add the dean to add a layer of leadership. This summer, a team of faculty and administrators evaluated that structure and decided to give more program control to program chairs and faculty. Therefore the current implementation of assistant provosts to direct communication from their specific chairs to the provost. The deans are now referred to as assistant provosts.
Claudia Rinaldi, Chair of the Undergraduate Education Program, agrees with the changes made, saying, “I do think there are really good changes in the sense that it has allowed us to look at how the different majors work together and kind of learn from the last four or five years when we had the dean structure. So we're maintaining the schools so that that part of the identity of each school is still intact,” Rinaldi said.
She continues by saying, “I do think having three [assistant provosts] and having more coordination between the undergraduate education and graduate education is a much better move,” Rinaldi said. “I think that adding this layer for them would be useful for the students and for the faculty.”
Despite the change in the structure of each school’s faculty, Rinaldi emphasizes that the student experience will not change. “Connected learning and an excellent classroom experience will continue to happen. We are here because of the students,” Rinaldi said.
This has been corrected from its original version and next months print edition will contain a correction as well.