Committee to Review the College and Divisional Structure

Charge to the Committee to Review the College and Divisional Structure

from Robert J. Zimmer, President
May 19, 2016

Membership of the Committee:

  • Committee Chair:  Larry F. Norman, Frank L. Sulzberger Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures, Theater and Performance Studies, Fundamentals, and the College; Chair, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures; former Master, Humanities Collegiate Division and Deputy Dean of Humanities (HUM)
  • Cathy Cohen, David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science; Chair, Department of Political Science  (SSD); former Deputy Provost
  • Thomas Christensen, Avalon Foundation Professor of Music and the Humanities; Chair, Department of Music
  • Geoffrey Greene, Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor, Ben May Department of Cancer Research, and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Chair, Ben May Department of Cancer Research; Chair, Committee on Cancer Biology; Co-director, Ludwig Center for Metastasis Research (BSD)
  • Emilio Kourí, Professor of History, Romance Languages and Literatures, and the College; Chair, Department of History (SSD)
  • Ka Yee C. Lee, Professor in Chemistry, James Franck Institute, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics and the College; Director, Materials Research Science and Engineering Center; Faculty Director, University of Chicago Center in Hong Kong  (PSD)
  • Robert Rosner, William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, the Enrico Fermi Institute, and the College; former chair, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics; former Director, Argonne National Laboratory  (PSD)
  • James T. Sparrow, Associate Professor in History; Master, Social Sciences Collegiate Division and Deputy Dean of Social Sciences Division  (College/SSD)

Staff of the Committee: Carol Wilinski, Secretary of the Faculties



On April 28, 2016, I received a memorandum regarding the University’s College and divisional structure from John Boyer (Dean of the College), Rocky Kolb (Dean of the Physical Sciences Division), David Nirenberg (Dean of the Social Sciences Division), and Martha Roth (Dean of the Humanities Division), (collectively the “Deans”). 

In their memorandum (link), the Deans described a set of structural issues regarding the University’s current organization of the “arts and sciences” that hampers the evolution of our work in education and research, and likewise hampers useful budgetary transparency thereby hindering the most effective use of our resources.   They further requested that I appoint a faculty committee “to explore the current financial, budgetary and structural organization of the ‘arts and sciences’,” which they defined for purposes of their memorandum to consist of the College and the Social Sciences, Humanities and Physical Sciences Divisions. 

Among other things, the Deans stated that:

  • “[T]he current organization of the arts and sciences . . . creates two especially significant challenges, one having to do with budgetary allocation structures, the other with our institutional capacity to encourage and sustain cross-cutting innovation in both research and teaching.”
  • “Without second-guessing the conclusions of any committee, we believe that the current status of the Divisions and the College as independent degree-granting Faculties and as educational and research Ruling Bodies is effective and should be maintained. But we are also convinced that some level of greater budgetary, administrative, and strategic coordination among the Divisions and College as a group would be desirable, enabling them to develop more rational and transparent planning vis-à-vis the revenues generated by the College and to encourage new forms of educational and scholarly collaboration; and,
  • “We thus believe that serious and informed thought should be given to a more integrated budgetary entity and that more focused administrative, policy, and strategic leadership will be needed to achieve that end.”

On May 12, I responded to the Deans through a message to all University faculty (link) expressing my support for their recommendation and my intent, with the Deans’ input, to appoint a representative faculty committee before this Spring’s convocation to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various options along the lines the Deans suggested.  I also indicated in that memo, as supported by Kenneth Polonsky, Dean of the Biological Sciences Division, that following the Committee’s work and any actions resulting from it I would appoint a second faculty committee to consider the structural relationship of the BSD to the College and other divisions in order to reflect and promote the connections of BSD to these areas.

The faculty committee membership reflects the input of the Deans and consists of leading faculty members with administrative experience in their areas. It also contains a faculty member from BSD to smooth the connection between the work of the two committees.

Committee Charge

The Committee is charged to:

  1. further explore and fully understand what the Deans identified as the challenges posed by the current organization of the “arts and sciences,” including:
    • the system of resource allocation;
    • the capacity for flexible and forward-looking innovation in teaching and research;
  2. research and evaluate the organization of the “arts and sciences” in general:  the history of the arts and sciences at the University and at peer institutions, including the relevant roles and responsibilities played by, and interaction between and among, any and all relevant chairs, deans, and members of the provost office;
  3. identify the positives and negatives of maintaining some or all of the University’s existing organizational structure for the “arts and sciences”; and,
  4. outline a set of alternative organizational structures for the University’s “arts and sciences,” incorporating or not in some fashion our current structure, whether in place at peer institutions or otherwise, and the strengths and weaknesses of such alternatives in addressing the challenges referenced in #1 above (or any other challenges discovered by the Committee through their work).

The Committee shall issue to the president and provost a final, written report on its work by no later than January 31, 2017.  This report will then be made available to all members of the University community.

While the Committee shall meet prior to the end of the Spring Quarter 2016 to discuss this charge and its execution, and begin its work this summer (particularly in gathering foundational information), the Fall Quarter of 2016 will be an important time for the Committee to obtain broad input from the faculty of the relevant divisions and the College as well as any useful input from deans, and members of the provost’s and president’s offices.  Following receipt of the Committee’s report, there will be further discussion of the report amongst the faculty, deans, and provost.

The Committee is undertaking a very important task and I want to express my appreciation to the Committee members for their willingness to serve in this capacity.  I look forward to your report.