The College of Arts and Sciences will be splitting in two on May 15 in order for the new College of Science to focus attention on maintaining UNT’s Tier One status, senior project administrator for the sciences Dr. Su Gao said.
This split comes after UNT gained the title of Tier One university in February 2016. Within the current College of Arts and Sciences there are 19 departments, four of which will fall under the new college, along with one program.
“The College of Science is going to consist of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and Teach North Texas, an interdisciplinary program that trains science and math teachers,” Gao said.
The remaining 15 departments and programs will then become the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, or CLASS.
Gao explained this split is in preparation for the future.
“Carnegie Foundation is going to re-evaluate Tier One institutions,” Gao said. “We have a lot of competition and work to do to keep us [Tier One]. In this emphasis on Tier One status, there are two things that are vitally important: research grants and expenditure and Ph.D. production.”
Dr. Pamela Padilla, current associate biology professor and future associate dean of research and graduate studies for the College of Science said the new college will focus attention on keeping Tier One status through “increased productivity and making the process [of applications for research grants] better for everybody.”
“Now we as a college can look at how to best facilitate graduate students,” Padilla said. “This will help in thinking about curriculum and mentoring Ph.D. students so they can be successful in terms of professional development and access to resources.”
Maintaining Tier One status affects UNT’s eligibility to get research grants. UNT and other Tier One institutions are put in a separate category to compete for certain funding opportunities that would not have been available without the status, Padilla said.
Padilla noted that keeping this title is also “good for reputation and opportunities,” as it aids in not just the retention and helping of current students but recruitment of future students, both graduate and undergraduate.
For the majors under COS there will be a review of degree requirements, namely re-evaluating the requirement of CAS to take 42 advanced hours, said Dr. John Quintanilla, current professor of mathematics and future associate dean for undergraduate studies of COS.
“All the current degree requirements that currently exist for CAS are on the table for re-examination,” Quintanilla said. “We’ll take a fresh look at [those] after the split and decide if that’s something that still makes sense for the new college.”
Quintanilla said the split “brought up a lot of good conversations,” and, although no decisions have been made yet, any potential changes could go into effect as early as this fall semester.
COS will be located at Hickory Hall by the time of the official college split, Gao said. The dean’s suite will temporarily be held in room 120, but all offices will move upstairs once renovations to the second floor are completed, which is planned to finish by the end of the summer.
Gao will become the interim dean of COS for the first academic year of the college meanwhile a search begins to find a permanent dean. Most other staff members, such as the science advisors who currently work under CAS, will simply transition into this new college.
The current dean of CAS, Dr. David Holdeman, will remain dean of CLASS. Holdeman said the benefit of this split for CLASS is renewed observation on the needs of the remaining departments as the size of CAS becomes smaller.
“One of the benefits for CLASS will be that I and my staff will be able to focus on the needs of the liberal arts and social sciences departments,” Holdeman said. “We’ll be able to pay more attention to them and focus on advocating for their needs.”
Holdeman said that CLASS students should not expect any immediate changes to the current function of the school.
Featured Image: UNT is preparing Hickory Hall for renovations to accommodate for the administrative decisions to split the College of Arts and Sciences into the College of Arts and the separate College of Science. Jake King