Arts and Humanities splits into two separate divisions

With a tight economy, OCCC officials looked for an affordable way to create two much-needed full-time faculty positions — one in math and one in English.

The result was to eliminate two existing director positions and move those employees up the chain of command, to dean positions, said Academic Affairs Vice President Felix Aquino. That would open up funding for the two faculty positions.

“We were searching for a dean of Arts and Humanities and a director of the mathematics department,” Aquino said. “And we thought this is a time … to think about these positions.

“By not filling these positions, we could eliminate two positions without having a negative impact on anybody.

“It was a way that we could eliminate two administrative positions and with the savings, create two new full-time faculty positions.”

As a result, the Arts and Humanities division will split into two divisions as of July 1 with Communications and Arts Director Ruth Charnay being named dean of one division and Language Arts Director Kim Jameson being named dean of the other.

Charnay said the change will make things more equitable across divisions.

“It will ensure professors are able to get everything they need,” she said. “It just made more sense as a workflow to split things up.”

Aquino says the impact of this regrouping with be “minimal” for teaching faculty.

“The reporting structure is going to remain the same,” he said. “The faculty who reported to directors will be reporting to deans.”

Aquino said deans do have different functions than directors.

“Deans sit at the Dean’s council,” he said. “A dean position, in addition to having operational responsibilities to make sure the division functions, has policy-making function.”

Charnay said the current programs in the Communication and Arts department will still be available. She said the only difference is there will be two divisions instead of departments.

“I will still work with the same faculty and adjuncts in the area,” Charnay said. “If the students have a complaint, instead of coming to the department director, they will come to the dean,” she said. “It’s really just a matter of making lines clearer.”

The split will mean changes for the students as well.

“It will mean we’ve added two new full-time faculty. Our adjuncts do a marvelous job, we have a fine adjunct faculty, but adjunct faculty are not involved with program review and curriculum development, Aquino said.

“Full-time faculty are very much involved in the governance of the college. They sit on numerous committees.”

Eventually, he said, the division split will lead to new office locations for the newly formed divisions.

“At present there will be no change to what is now the Arts & Humanities [office],” Aquino said. “The plan right now — and plans are always subject to change — is that once the theater is completed, within it there’s going to be a much larger art gallery.

“So the space in the existing art gallery can be subdivided between those two divisions,” Aquino said.

Aquino said there are benefits to the split and even more benefits to adding new faculty positions.

“We’re always short of full-time faculty and having more full-time faculty is always a good thing.

Charnay said the split will create one less layer of administration.

“If a student needs a question answered, a complaint filed or grade appeal, etc., there will be one less person to get through in that process,” she said.

Aquino said the search for the new faculty members is under way and that he anticipates having those spots filled by the time the fall semester begins.

Jameson wasn’t available for comment by press time.

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