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UW Begins Reorganization with Focus on Excellence

December 8, 2016

Aiming to improve student enrollment, retention and completion, the University of Wyoming is moving forward with a reorganization that will bring campus units focused on student services together with the university’s academic functions.

Additionally, in an effort to expand its off-campus offerings, units of UW’s Outreach School will be assimilated into a new structure within the Office of Academic Affairs.

“The new structure will not only retain, but in many cases greatly enhance, existing functions at the university, including those currently residing in the Office of Student Affairs and the Outreach School,” says Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kate Miller. “From my perspective, perhaps the most exciting aspect of this change is the way it will foster expansion of the mission of our Outreach School, including distance education programming and community college partnerships.”

The plan, outlined in a message from the provost to the UW community today (Thursday), has an overall objective of fostering academic excellence and careful stewardship of public funds. The administration’s timeline calls for examination of the restructuring, including feedback from university stakeholders, between now and March, with implementation taking place from March to the start of the new fiscal year July 1, 2017.

The restructuring will bring together functions focused on students -- from recruitment and enrollment to graduation and job placement -- under the provost and Office of Academic Affairs.

Functions that directly involve enrollment management -- including Admissions and Recruiting, Registration and Records, Scholarships and Financial Aid, Summer School, and Summer Outreach Programs -- will report directly to the provost through a new associate vice president. A number of these units currently reside in both the Office of Student Affairs and the Outreach School.

Student retention efforts including STEP, Student Educational Opportunity, and the Center for Advising and Career Services -- which currently reside in both the offices of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs -- will be brought under one umbrella under an associate vice president for academics.

“These moves are designed to provide focused, intentional infrastructure that more effectively promotes success for all student populations,” Miller says. “Simultaneously, the Center for Advising and Career Services is undergoing a redesign to work with colleges to coordinate and train all student academic advisers in better working with first-year, transfer and continuing students; provide a more immersive approach to career development; and shepherd exploratory studies majors.”

The associate dean overseeing UW’s branch campus in Casper and the regional centers, who currently reports to the Outreach School, will report directly to the provost.

“This will boost our efforts to provide a seamless transition across higher education in Wyoming and reinforce our ability to both work with Wyoming transfer students and to provide more educational opportunities to students who choose to pursue their education outside of Laramie via UW distance courses online and other technological delivery methods,” Miller says. “We will examine the possible addition of new degree programs, certificates, endorsements and not-for-credit opportunities that enhance workforce development and reach new populations of traditional and nontraditional students.”

Existing units and programs in Student Affairs and the Outreach School that have an international focus, including the English Language Center, International Programs, and International Students and Scholars, will be brought together under one executive director who will report to the provost.

“This will strengthen our ability to provide students, faculty, staff and extended UW community members access to transformative international opportunities -- and help them share and build the knowledge and skills needed to lead and excel in a globally interconnected world,” Miller says.

With respect to graduate education, Interim Associate Vice President Ann Hild will soon assemble a task force that will conceptualize a newly designed Graduate School. This task force will be composed of university leaders who are committed to research and graduate education and have insights into the types of support needed for graduate student success.

The objectives of the reorganization include:

-- More directly tying student recruitment, retention, learning and success to the work of faculty and academic administration, and significantly increasing enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

-- Ensuring that the university fully embraces the 21st century instructional environment including online, hybrid, distance and outreach teaching approaches, along with strong partnerships with community colleges.

-- Expanding opportunities for transformative learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom including internships, research and international experiences.

-- Strengthening support for research and economic development by promoting new degree offerings and graduate and undergraduate student experiences that align with state, national and international demand for research of societal importance and graduates who are well prepared to enter the workforce.

-- Improving efficiency and effectiveness of operations to include achievement of budget reduction targets for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

-- Encouraging innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to funding the university’s mission.

“We expect that this reorganization will lead to an overall reduction in cost, and, importantly, we expect that UW students will retain, persist and graduate at higher rates, and our faculty will be better supported in their instructional and research activities,” Miller says. “Most employees will retain their jobs; we will rely on their expertise as we move forward.”

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