University News

College of Business and Technology sees reorganization, merged departments

August 25, 2010

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MACOMB, IL - - As of the 2010-2011 academic year, the Western Illinois University College of Business and Technology (CBT) is smaller by two departments—but all academic programs have been retained, and no faculty or staff members were laid off, according to Tom Erekson, CBT dean.

The reorganization was the outcome of President Al Goldfarb's directive in Spring 2010 for all University divisions to reduce their budgets by 3.5 percent, a direct impact of the state of Illinois' budget crisis.

The reorganization consisted of merging six departments housed in Stipes Hall into four, elimination of two department chair positions and three secretarial positions, and restructuring administrative roles within the college, creating a savings of $350,000, according to Erekson.

"When looking at our budget situation, it was a question of how we could meet our cut without severely harming our 'brand,' which is highly quality, full-time faculty who teach relatively small classes, who do that well, and who can also continue their scholarly and service activities," Erekson said. "Frankly, we did not approach this as a temporary budget cut. We must look long-term, realizing that we will have to do more with less from the state."

As part of the administrative restructuring, John Drea, former chair of marketing and finance, was named CBT associate dean, effective Aug. 1. Two departments, information systems and decisions sciences, and marketing and finance, were eliminated. The former departments of accountancy, computer sciences, economics, information management and decision sciences (ISDS), management and marketing and finance, were reorganized into the following structure: accountancy and finance department, John Elfrink, chair; computer science and information systems, Kathleen Neumann, chair; economics and decision sciences, Tej Kaul, chair; and management and marketing, Gordon Rands, interim chair. The other units in the college include: agriculture, (school of), William Bailey, director; engineering, (school of), William Pratt, director; and engineering technology, C. Ray Diez, chair.

Erekson noted that the reorganization did not affect faculty teaching loads or the small class sizes from which CBT students benefit.

"We worked hard to keep this an open and fair process, and everyone retained his or her job, salary, and pay grade," Erekson noted.

Secretarial staff had the opportunity to transfer to other units, while faculty retirements and open positions were factors considered in the consolidation.

"We received more than 100 suggestions during the process, and in an effort toward transparency, these were placed on the College web page," said Erekson. "We found the reorganization plan to be the most equitable to the greatest number of employees, and it helped us remain true to our guiding principles."

Erekson noted that his research on other university's structures indicated that the way departments are now structured is not uncommon.

"The departments make academic sense," Erekson said. "It is our hope that this reorganization will make for some interesting synergies between the disciplines."

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