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FAQ

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

General

  1. Are there problems that need to be addressed?
    • No specific problems are being addressed. The establishment of a “School” is an opportunity to take what we have and increase faculty and program productivity, increase satisfaction of all stakeholders, create innovative possibilities for students and make room for the development of new ways of teaching what we know best while excelling in our research projects and serving the community at large.
  2. Don’t we do all of this already?
    • There are many significant initiatives led by faculty in our units that are unknown to many. The “School” will help to create a structure that will encourage, facilitate, and reward many of the initiatives that are already in place, make them visible to MSU and the community at large, and support new ones. We have provided examples of how initiatives are led in other “schools” and in our units at MSU. See “Collaborative Activities and Cross Disciplinary Initiatives in the Task Force website.
  3. How can the current pod structure take on more duties?
    • At this point we cannot tell whether the current pod will need to take on more duties. The current pod is already serving all programs in three (out of four) units considered to be integrated in this “School” (LGSAAL, RCS, SLS). However, this will be an important issue to be addressed by the Action Committee.
  4. Will everyone notice a difference?
    • Very likely, for many, other than being part of a bigger whole, day-to-day life will be the same.
  5. How much and how often will faculty, academic specialists, students and staff be consulted throughout the process?
    • Consultation and feedback are crucial elements to consider in any and all discussions of a change like this. The first town hall meeting took place on August 30, 2016, with a high level of participation and a survey was sent to all immediately after. A website has been set since summer 2016 to keep everyone informed and is updated on a regular basis. The Task Force will continue with practices to keep you informed and to receive your feedback.
  6. Will we have an opportunity to discuss the final plan before it goes to MSU academic governance?
    • Yes. Undoubtedly, there will be different formats for discussion, input, and feedback before final plans are put into place.

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Models of “Schools”

  1. The TF provided information from five universities? Will what is being done in other “schools” be considered?
    • We have considered other “schools” by looking at the website, talking to colleagues, and in general bringing our collective knowledge to bear. This will continue throughout the process.
  2. Why are we not looking at Ivy League’s language programs/departments as an administrative and organizational model?
    • Ivy League institutions are different from the public land grant universities (e.g. MSU) in several ways, and the ways in which language programs, instruction and upper levels are organized is a good example of this difference.
      Ivy League universities are private institutions with UG enrollment ranging from 4,000 to 14,000 students, making them smaller than public university and even more than those from the Big Ten Academic Alliance (“Big Ten”) where UG enrollments range from 31,000 to 56,000. Their budgetary profiles are also different from institutions like ours. These basic differences have an impact on the ways in which UG and graduate programs are organized and offered.
      MSU intends to keep and strengthen a unified approach in the study of a society and its language, literature, and culture, while considering all aspects of language study as crucial pieces in the curriculum.

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Units in “Schools”

  1. Why not the English Department?
    • At this point, the focus is on units where languages, literatures, and cultures are taught in a second language and on those disciplines where language is an object of scientific study.
  2. Will thematic structures/clusters be permanent?
    • This hasn’t been discussed although one would imagine that there might be a “sunset clause” for clusters and future clusters would be discussed. In other institutions, thematic centers/cluster are defined with very wide area of inquiry to accommodate more specific topics within this area every 3‐4 years. See for example: The SLCL and the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and the Focal Groups at Stanford University’s Division.
  3. Why can’t units within the “School” keep their designation as “departments”?
    • We already have programs within two large departments. These programs will become independent with a head who will work with the “School” director as a team. MSU does not allow the creation of departments that have small numbers of TS faculty. In addition, in a “School context”, the status of programs will not change. Furthermore, the academic/professional identity and the metrics for excellence that are sought and recognized nationwide (and internationally) are located/associated with the program, not the department.
  4. Are “small languages” and LCTLs being lumped together?
    • Currently, there is a director of the LCTL program and that arrangement would likely remain. There are other languages with only 1 or 2 TS faculty members. Those have never been part of the LCTL program.
  5. Will small programs be protected?
    • Protection and support for the small programs has been one of the motivations cited in most of the schools we interviewed (Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland).
  6. Will there be a balance of power between large and small programs?
    • A structure will have to be put in place to keep the balance of representation and access/use of resources, both items related to the perception of power among programs within a unit.
  7. Will competition for resources increase?
    • Probably no more than is currently the case. There are limited resources, but there may be creative ways of putting positions together so that more than one discipline can benefit (see recent call for cluster hires in Digital Humanities).

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Centers

  1. Will CeLTA only serve basic language programs?
    • CeLTA’s mission is to support language teaching through all areas of the curriculum.
  2. Will thematic structures/clusters be permanent?
    • This hasn’t been discussed although one would imagine that there might be a “sunset clause” for clusters and future clusters would be discussed.

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Leadership and Academic Governance

  1. Can a Director manage a large unit as what is being considered here?
    • A Director would have as his/her focus activities that promote the School (e.g. cluster hire requests, external funding, outreach) and would not be primarily responsible for the day‐to‐day operations of individual units.
  2. What would a director do in terms of visibility and advocacy that a department chairperson does not do?
    • The “School” Director, as we have observed in other “schools” and as we tentatively envision this position, will strengthen our initiatives and visibility in numbers, allowing for greater leverage of external funding. Representing a larger and comprehensive unit within the university at large will also provide us with more weight and presence in university matters.
  3. How will this structure allow access to the Dean?
    • This is an important issue that has to be addressed. The administrative structure, including leadership roles and duties and governance, have not been discussed yet. This concern will be taken into consideration by the Action Committee when preparing a concrete proposal for the School.

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Collaborations

  1. Does everyone have to participate in collaboration?
    • No. Collaboration will be facilitated and ways of rewarding collaboration will have to be included. No one will be “forced” to collaborate, but the opportunity will be there for those who are interested and/or for those who want to seek collaborative partners. The call for collaborations is founded in part in the interdisciplinary approaches to our fields of study and the possibilities of enrichment that collaboration opens. We have provided examples of how initiatives are led in other “schools” and in our units at MSU. See “Collaborative Activities and Cross Disciplinary Initiatives in the Task Force website.
  2. Is it the case that collaboration outside of the School would be discouraged?
    • Not at all. To the contrary, all modes of working will be encouraged:
      1. Collaboration within the School, within and outside of one’s specific program/discipline.
      2. Collaborations outside of the School
      3. Collaborations with colleagues from the same or different area/discipline outside MSU.
    • We have provided examples of how initiatives are led in other “schools” and in our units at MSU. See “Collaborative Activities and Cross Disciplinary Initiatives in the Task Force website.
  3. Will thematic structures/clusters be permanent?
    • This hasn’t been discussed although one would imagine that there might be a “sunset clause” for clusters and future clusters would be discussed.

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Curriculum

  1. Would curricula have to be standardized?
    • No. Each language program would continue to manage its own curricular needs. However, we anticipate room for collaborations like team‐teaching or workshops on best pedagogical practices that may have an impact in the creation of new courses in the program’s curriculum, if the program faculty agree.

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Budget

  1. What does budget‐neutral mean in the context of this reorganization?
    • “Budget‐neutral” means that allocations of funding will not change in the immediate future. For example, TAships that are currently allocated to X program will not change. If there are changes down the road, they are likely to be based on factors such as enrollment patterns. In other words, changes may or may not happen based on factors other than the structure.
  2. How will budgets be allocated?
    • Budget allocations procedures have not yet been determined.
  3. Will TA budgets be cut?
    • No. If TA budgets change in the future (increase or decrease), it would not be because of any structure; it would be because of situations related to the program (loss of or increased number of graduate students) and not to a structure.
  4. Will competition for resources increase?
    • Probably no more than is currently the case. There are limited resources, but there may be creative ways of putting positions together so that more than one discipline can benefit (see recent call for cluster hires in Digital Humanities).

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Recruitment

  1. Will it be difficult to recruit Ph.D. students into a program and not a department?
    • No. In the current situation, Ph.D. students apply to nationally ranked programs and not Departments. Disciplinary identity and excellence is in the program, not in the department. Students most likely apply to a Ph.D. program because of the discipline, the offered program, and the faculty working in a given program, not because of that program’s location.
  2. Will competition for resources/new hires increase?
    • Probably no more than is currently the case. There may be creative ways of putting positions together so that more than one discipline can benefit (see recent call for cluster hires in Digital Humanities).

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