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CAS splits, gives way to CLASS and CSM

When a university grows, sometimes the only thing to do is make the pieces smaller.

Belmont made an announcement in November that the College of Arts & Sciences would be splitting into two separate colleges due to its current size and substantial growth over recent years.

CAS currently employs 130 faculty full time, contains 15 departments and four schools and will become two separate colleges, effective June 2014.

The sciences and math disciplines will be collectively known as the College of Sciences and Mathematics.

The schools of humanities, education and social sciences will make up the new College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and will be home to about two thirds of the undergrad majors from CAS.

“Splitting it into a college of science and mathematics took about a third of the faculty from the CAS to make the new CSM and left two-thirds of the faculty in the CAS and move them into the CLASS so it’s a one-third, two-third split,” said Dr. Thomas Burns, the provost at Belmont University. “Disciplinarily, it makes sense because we’ve kept similar ideas and practices together: sciences and math on one side and social sciences and education in the other college.”

While the faculty regularly discussed the potential change, Burns said a senior leadership team made the official decision.

“We didn’t have to do it. We could have left everything as it was and it wouldn’t have been bad. This was just an opportunity,” said Burns. “I think the faculty, at least the faculty that will be in the CSM were very excited. Some of the faculty of the CLASS are a little concerned about it because it’s different, but I think, in general, they understand why we’re doing it.”

Burns also did confirm that none of the major and minor programs should be affected because of the change and that this change was more due to the size and organization of the college rather than the academics CAS contains.

“It’s our recognition that as the university grows, there are times when it makes sense to create new administrative structures to better serve students, faculty and staff,” said Burns. “That’s what this was. My hope is that it will affect students positively because it increases the number of deans that are focusing on a specific population.”

The idea of more representation should hopefully affect the faculty in a positive way as well, providing more voices in the faculty senate and other committees on campus.

Other than a few shifts of associate deans and some staff members, the only major change to the administration will be the addition of a new dean to the CSM.

While Dr. Bryce Sullivan, the current dean of CAS, will be staying on as the dean of CLASS and heading the search for a leader for the new CSM.

“We have a faculty search team in place that is receiving the applications and reviewing them. At this point, we had asked for applications by Jan 6, so we’ve just passed that deadline and the committee is beginning to review the applications and make decisions about phone calls and we will then move to campus interviews,” said Burns. “I think all the applications are from external applicants.”

The search will be ongoing for the next few months, hopefully resulting in filling the position in early April.

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