Email to faculty and staff from Judith Burstyn (Department Chair)
Context for duscussions of prototype organization chart
This message summarizes the information that I presented at the department meeting. Most of this material is directly from what I said or showed on the screen but was likely hard to absorb in the meeting context.
The focus of our current discussion is at the top level of our department organizational structure. The proposal before us for discussion is whether we adopt the proposed structure at the highest level: the lower levels are not yet fleshed out and it is not our goal at this time to address those levels.
Please focus your attention on the major categories of function and the structure to enable us to manage those functions. The primary changes that are envisioned in the new structure as presented are: elimination of the position of Executive Director and dispersal of the functions of that role among the undergraduate program, graduate program and administrative enterprise. Each of these categories of function will be overseen by an executive level director, Associate Chair for Undergraduate Program, Associate Chair for Graduate Program and Director of Administration. All three of these individuals would report to the department chair. The Associate Chair for Undergraduate Program would work with the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the Director of Undergraduate Instruction (new), and the Undergraduate Office Director to administer the undergraduate program. The Associate Chair for Graduate Program would work with the Graduate Curriculum Committee and the Graduate Office Director to administer the graduate program. The Director of Administration will oversee the administrative functions, including new capacity in accounting and purchasing.
If the Executive Committee adopts this high-level structure at our February department meeting, then Darin Harris, our organizational consultant, will guide us through a full design and implementation process. At that time, we would be looking to all of you to work together in designing the most effective structure to enact the mission of each enterprise within this scheme.
Why are we undertaking this exercise? What are we trying to address or solve?
– Many lines of supervision are disconnected from job functions. Consequently, some supervisors don’t have firsthand knowledge of critical job duties. As an example, several reports assigned to the Executive Director don’t make functional sense but have been accreted over time. Some job functions report to places less centrally located although they serve the entire department.
– Major committees are not associated with or connected to the organizational chart. This situation is confusing, and produces role redundancy, inefficiency, and duplication of effort.
– The current Associate Chair position serves the department in an inconsistent and sub-optimal way.
– The Chair position oversees far too many functions without the direct assistance of a faculty-driven executive team.
– Budgeting is a ‘black hole’ that is unknown to all but a few and lacks critical expertise to rigorously track department expenditures. The new structure adds a budgeting and forecasting specialist, whose role is to account for and manage department resources.
– The administrative roles for paths conflict with a need to manage instruction at the department level. Consequences are inequities in workload and challenges in assigning and managing teaching assignments and covering lab oversight.
What was the process used to get to this point?
– Interviews were held with as many of the key individuals as possible who hold oversight functions in the department including: Executive Director, Department Administrator, Chair, Lab Directors, Path Chairs, and personnel supervisors.
– The organizational structure of comparable chemistry departments was solicited through the Midwest Chairs and Chemistry Department Administrators networks, to benchmark models for departments of similar size and mission.
– A report was produced outlining strengths, issues and recommendations based on the compiled interview results and benchmarked departmental structures.
– The resulting report was shared with Finance Committee, feedback was gathered, and approval gained to create a working “prototype” of a revised structure based on the recommended changes.
– The prototype mock-up was shared with past Chairs and the Finance Committee for initial review and feedback.
– A final working prototype was produced to reflect the changes reviewed in this overview document.