Update and thoughts on next steps

by Sara Z

For those who don’t know, Associate Dean of LIS Deb Grealy is on medical leave, so Professor Emeritus Mary Wagner is covering her administrative duties. So it was that we–a group of six students–met with Mary on Thursday to find out what she knew about this decision to move the MLIS program into the School of Business and Leadership. The discussion lasted for an hour but revealed little: it seems the LIS faculty don’t know much more than the students about how this decision was made. We revisited some points that were made by Dean King in her responses here and elsewhere:

  • This move somehow (details unclear) is in better alignment with the goals of the 2020 strategic plan.
  • This move somehow (details unclear) will better position St. Kate’s for renewal of our Higher Education accreditation.

As we move forward with asking for a transparent accounting of the decision-making process, we will try to address these specific points to find out more about the reasoning (or, maybe, lack of reasoning) behind them. Paul has an appointment with (I believe–correct me if I’m wrong) Senior VP Colleen Hegranes later this summer to learn more.

We did learn a few things that help shed light on the decision, though:

  • Social Work is a joint program between St. Kate’s and St. Thomas and has its own Dean. They have tended to see themselves as separate from us. So, there are preexisting conditions, as it were, leading to their move.
  • This reorganization creates a more even balance of student enrollment between the Schools within the University. From a governance standpoint, this allows the leadership of the schools to speak to each other with greater equality.
  • The possibility of renaming the School of Business and Leadership has been raised, albeit without promise of immediate action. At the time the Schools were being named 3-4 years ago, the Board of Trustees mandated that the School housing MAOL have Business in its name. Mary suggested a case could be made for overturning that, but given that St. Kate’s will likely start an MBA, I remain skeptical.

So, what do we do next? As noted above, Paul will be meeting with higher administration, and he’s going to see if it’s possible to include others in that discussion. One idea that came out of talking to Mary is the possibility of holding a forum for students to discuss “what it means to be part of a School: how it impacts our program and how we can impact the School” later this fall. We were careful during the discussion to maintain something of a distinction between the concerns about transparent decision-making and concerns about business affiliation, and I think that suggestion falls squarely into the former. At first, trying to be respectful towards the largest possible audience of concerned students, I thought that might be a good idea. However, it’s not terribly interesting to me–I’d rather have a discussion with other students about their opinion of the role of business in (or threat of business to) our profession.

In other words: it’s not clear yet exactly how we’re going to move forward, beyond finding out more about the reasoning that went into this decision. But, I’d love to hear more from other students.