The latest consolidation at USM doesn’t involve cutting any positions, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be handwringing.
USM’s three new colleges will soon be dropping their long, cumbersome names for more concise ones that the administration say should clearly communicate the contents of the colleges.
As of now the colleges are called the College of Public Service, Business, Graduate Education and Social Work; the College of Engineering, Health Professions, Nursing, Science and Technology; and the College of Communication, Culture and the Arts. Some also refer to them as the purple, red and green colleges, after the color coded diagram used in the university reorganization plan.
The College of Public Service, Business, Graduate Education and Social Work, headed by interim Dean Jim Shaffer, got any early start on the process over the summer because they’re now conducting a national search for a permanent dean.
The other two new colleges have just begun the naming process.
Meg Weston, vice president of advancement, said right now the time line for the process is to have the colleges submit three or four names to her and President Selma Botman by October 15. They will then get back to the college in November after getting input from their marketing firm, members of the Board of Visitors, students and other external stakeholders. The colleges will then submit their final few names to the president by December 15 for her to make the final decision.
The University of Maine System Board of Trustees will have the ultimate authority on the naming process.
Weston said besides gathering outside input and looking at the marketing side of the name choosing, anther role she will play is to “look for some coherence between the names.”
She said the names should also be clear and simple. “Ideally none of them would be a list. I think all of the colleges are trying to be more concise than simply listing,” said Weston.
In a memo sent to the faculty and staff of his college on September 1, Shaffer wrote that the college’s informal leadership group of school directors and key staff had narrowed down faculty and staff suggestions to three names: College of Enterprise and Society; College of Professions for Society and Enterprise; and College of Professions for Human Advancement. In the memo requesting suggestions, he asked for people to also list a negative choice for the name they would like excluded.
Weston said the suggestions have been good so far. “What I’ve seen out of Jim’s college has been very very thoughtful,” she said.
However the whole of his college doesn’t seem to share the sentiment. “All the names that we were considering have negative votes,” said Shaffer. “So frankly were going back to the drawing board.”
Shaffer said the negative votes came from all different sections of the college, making it more difficult to find a consensus.
The leadership group will meet on September 14 to evaluate the faculty and staff suggestions and submit names to Weston.
“I don’t think it will be completely different names. We’re still going to be working on variation of names. A words that was not in our previous names was leadership,” said Shaffer. He said some faculty have suggested including leadership in the title of the college.
Lynn Kuzma, the dean of the College of Communication, Culture and the Arts, said her college gathered at USM’s opening breakfast on August 27 and brainstormed for name ideas on flip charts. Then at their first college meeting they will put the names up on flip charts again, and allow people to vote for their top three choices. They generated 17 different names at the breakfast.
Kuzma said she’s trying to remain neutral to avoid influencing people’s choices. “I’m just one of many voices. I’ll put my sticker on the colleges I like, but I wont push for one college over another,” she said.
Andy Anderson, dean of the College of Engineering, Health Professions, Nursing, Science and Technology, said he is setting up a committee to develop possible names and create a mission statement for his college. Anderson said his associate dean may head the committee, but Anderson will still attend some of the meetings.
“We’ve really just started the process,” said Anderson.
“Part of it is the lateness of the [dean] appointment in the summer.” Anderson said they wanted the faculty to be able to set up their classrooms before tackling the naming process.