President Addresses COLSA Changes
February 14, 2007
Dear UNH Community Members,
Given your interest in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture,
I wanted to share with you that, early last week, the COLSA Strategic
Planning Committee submitted to me its recommendations for the structural
reorganization of the College, following a College-wide vote on the recommendations.
This followed the committee’s submission of a new strategic plan
for the College in early January, which COLSA faculty and staff had recommended
by an overwhelming margin.
What is most extraordinary is how this process has been immersed within
the faculty ranks of COLSA. Led by faculty, driven by faculty, discussed
among faculty, and voted on by faculty, this proposed new direction for
one of our most important academic units is a true testament to collaboration
and teamwork. Not only am I indebted to the three chairs of this effort
- Thomas Pistole, Regina Smick-Attisano and David Townsend – but
to the many faculty and staff who gave invaluable input to this essential
As you may be aware, the COLSA Strategic Planning Committee embarked
on this effort to propose a COLSA structural reorganization based upon
the newly created COLSA Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan is a valuable
and visionary work which I believe will guide the College well for the
next five years, and I am pleased to approve it today. As for the structural
reorganization plan, the entire personnel of the College—tenured
and tenure track faculty, adjunct faculty, and staff— were asked
to indicate their support or not by ballot. The results of those voting
were 87 percent in favor of the restructuring plan. Among the tenured
and tenure track faculty alone, 83 percent voted in favor of the plan.
Today, I am writing to you to tell you that I intend to recommend the
Strategic Planning Committee’s proposals for structural reorganization
of COLSA, without changes, to the University System of New Hampshire’s
Board of Trustees for approval at its April 19th meeting.
Between now and then, pursuant to Article 14.4.3 of the collective bargaining
agreement, Provost Mallory and I will convene the Senate Agenda Committee
and AAUP Executive Committee to outline my contemplated programmatic
changes. Provost Mallory and I will also host a full working session
with the Board so that the finer points of the plan can be fully discussed.
One virtue of the Strategic Planning Committee plan is the extent to
which faculty planners went to involve the New Hampshire community, including
business leaders and alumni, by soliciting their input throughout strategic
and reorganization planning.
Let me briefly outline some of the reasons why I intend to recommend
- It cannot be stated enough that this plan represents the collaborative
work of our faculty, and no one knows the College better than those who
teach, mentor students, conduct research, and carry out its critical
- The reorganization plan naturally follows the new COLSA Strategic Plan
(approved by the College 99 to1), which, in turn, follows the University’s
Academic Plan. This shows the College’s commitment to accountability
and rationality of program and administrative design.
- The plan will reduce the number of departments in COLSA from seven to
three (in addition to the Thompson School), while providing opportunities
for all faculty to engage in the interdisciplinary collaboration which
is vital to scholarly progress. The three new departments, whose final
names will be decided upon by the faculty themselves, are: Molecular,
Cellular & Biomedical Sciences; Animal and Plant Systems; and Natural
Resources and Sustainable Communities.
- Agriculture retains its well-earned visibility. Agriculture today encompasses
disciplines and applied sciences in all three COLSA departments and the
Thompson School. The study and teaching of agriculture therefore is distributed
across all of COLSA’s three new departments and the Thompson School.
Agriculture will be administered, however, in a single, central location.
This will provide more effective use of our resources while offering
clear and consistent academic program coordination. UNH believes that
agriculture is so important to the University and the state, that it
should be the subject of study in all COLSA departments. The new configuration
of programs and its administrative coordination serve our land-grant
mission in the 21st century.
- The Thompson School is better integrated with the academic programs
and the administrative structure of the three new departments. Not only
does this increase opportunities for students with an associate’s
degree to transfer into COLSA’s four-year programs, but the Thompson
School has never been better positioned to contribute to the life of
the University while retaining its distinctive mission of providing training
in the applied sciences.
There are other benefits as well, and for those of you who have not
read the College’s reorganization plan or its new strategic plan,
I encourage you to do so. They both are posted online and available through
the President’s web page at www.unh.edu/president.
If approved by the Trustees, many programs will operate academically
between or among departments, which will encourage faculty to make academic
interconnections among departments, while assigning administrative responsibility
for every program to a specific department.
The new strategic and organization plans for COLSA will enhance the
quality and coherence of the College’s academic, research, and
outreach programs. It must be noted, however, that the College continues
to face significant financial challenges. Simply put, the College does
not have sufficient revenues to balance its current level of expenses.
As the new plans are implemented, the College will need to take further
measures to bring its operating budget into balance. This might be accomplished
in several ways, including faculty and staff retirements, new investments
in faculty to increase research and instructional productivity, new initiatives
to increase external funding, greater curricular efficiency, and increased
emphasis on private support. In the coming months, Provost Mallory and
I will work with COLSA leadership to achieve these steps in order to
assure long-term financial solvency for COLSA.
Once again, my heartfelt thanks to everyone in COLSA who has contributed
so much of their time, imagination, and hope to this process. The results
are truly impressive. I am deeply grateful for the good work that has
been accomplished to date, and I am optimistic that COLSA is on a most
J. Bonnie Newman