UNE announces reorganization plan to enhance interdisciplinary learning

The University of New England’s Board of Trustees has approved a plan for organizational changes within the university’s academic and student support units. The plan reflects the university’s commitment to interdisciplinary learning and seeks to break down the academic silos of the traditional departmental structure.

In the College of Arts and Sciences, which houses the majority of undergraduate programming, UNE will reorganize its current structure of 13 individual, discipline-based departments into six multi-disciplinary schools composed of related disciplines: the School of Arts and Humanities, the School of Biological Sciences, the School of Marine and Environmental Sciences, the School of Physical Sciences and Mathematics, the School of Professional Programs, and the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Following this organizational change, each school will also develop interdisciplinary majors that allow students to tailor their academic programs to encompass more than one traditional academic field.

“As a highly innovative and nimble institution, we are always seeking to adapt to meet the needs of our students and society both now and into the future,” said President James Herbert. “UNE prides itself in being student-focused, and these changes will provide students the flexibility to craft their own plans of study so they can learn the fundamental skills and habits of mind that are at the core of a college education, while pursuing their unique passions and career aspirations. The changes will also create administrative efficiencies to ensure that we can provide these high-quality student programs while minimizing costs to students and their families.”

The university will roll out the plan through a phased process. This summer, UNE will move existing departments into the newly formed schools. By the fall, through a faculty-driven process, UNE will reconfigure majors, phasing out those with low enrollments and incorporating those disciplines into the broader area majors. Students currently enrolled in affected programs will be able to complete their studies with their current major.

UNE is also making additional changes to its professional health programs that will facilitate more cross-disciplinary collaboration. When applied to heath education, interdisciplinary learning is known as interprofessional education (IPE). UNE is a national leader in IPE and, to further those efforts, is merging its College of Pharmacy with the Westbrook College of Health Professions, which houses 11 other allied health programs, including the School of Nursing and Population Health, the Physician Assistant and Dental Hygiene programs, and the School of Social Work.

Finally, the university will merge its professional advising, career services, and internship offices to form a single Student Advising Center, providing a “one-stop” location for all student support services.

“We seek to enhance the ability of UNE to promote student success, with a particular focus on academic excellence, and to provide holistic support of students’ academic and co-curricular needs,” said Provost Joshua Hamilton. “With our student-centric focus, we are continually improving our programs and structures so they provide seamless, cohesive, and easy-to-access pathways and resources to optimize student retention, graduation success, and career readiness.”

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