By Angelique D’Alessandro
News and Online Editor
Academic departments throughout the university were consolidated over the summer, with multiple departments merging under one chairperson.
In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), the political science, history, economics, and sociology departments have been combined, and will now share one department chairperson instead of four separate chair people. The English, philosophy, and foreign language departments have also combined into one. In the College of Arts, Communication & Design, the music department has merged into the department of theater, dance, and arts management.
Dr. Amy Freedman, former political science chairperson and professor, who left the university over the summer and is now a professor at Pace University, said that consolidation efforts began with the appointment of the new dean for CLAS last year.
“When [Dean of the CLAS, Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch] started at LIU last year, he immediately identified that many of the CLAS departments were quite small,” Freedman said.
“He told us that he felt having departments with three or four faculty members made no sense, both from a financial standpoint and from a programmatic one. He convened many chairs meetings to discuss consolidation within CLAS.”
Freedman said that department chairs, with one or two exceptions, were not on board with the consolidation plans.
“In March or April, [Bowditch] told us that instead of departments merging with one other department or two, that in Hoxie Hall all four departments [political science, history, economics, and sociology] would be merged. Faculty will get together at the start of fall semester to choose a chair for this combined unit,” Freedman said. “We have filed a grievance with the union regarding this, but I doubt it will get far.”
As for the effect on students, Freedman said that the plan will not be student-friendly.
“I fear that there will be a fair amount of chaos this semester, as it is unclear who can sign off on things, and who will interface with students, advisors, and admissions,” she said.
Dr. John Lutz, a professor of English and newly elected chair of the consolidated English, philosophy, and foreign language department, differs from Freedman in his view of consolidation.
“I began speaking with the philosophy chair, and I kind of liked the idea [of consolidation]. I actually think that this change will be good for humanities on campus,” Lutz said.
Although the departments have already consolidated, students on campus were unaware of the changes.
Gabrielle Greco, a senior music major, said that she hasn’t heard anything about
the consolidation of her program. However, she said that if consolidation occurs, she would be nervous for the state of her department.
“I’m a music major. I don’t know any [faculty] in theater,” Greco said. “The music department is tight knit. We know everyone in it who could potentially be chair. Having someone not in the music department [become chair], someone who doesn’t know our schedules and needs, could be dysfunctional.”
Philip Atkins, a sophomore history major, echoed Greco’s fear. “I’d be pretty disappointed [if consolidation occurred]. I don’t feel that the subject’s needs would be adequately met,” Atkins said. “[The departments] would be better split, each focusing on one area.”