Pierce College is no stranger to change, and as the school year progresses, so do plans for another big change.
On July 1, the internal structure of the college will be reorganized from campus-based divisions to district-based divisions.
Seven divisions currently make up the college’s structure. One division is districtwide for the military program and the other six divisions consist of three divisions on each campus made up of math and science, arts and humanities, and business and social science. The campus-based divisions are a way to organize classes and their subjects into groups.
Leading each division is a division chair who’s in charge of scheduling class times, curriculum and more.
“In the past, division chairs have acted as a bridge because they come from faculty and act as administration. They’re a sort of liaison,” said John Lucas, vice president of the Pierce College Federation of Teachers.
The days of the division chairs and campus-based divisions are coming to an end. Pierce College administrators have decided to transition to districtwide divisions with deans heading each division instead of division chairs. The current division deans will either go back to their previous faculty positions or can apply to become a dean in the new division structure.
“We, the administration, felt it was better to have district divisions,” Vice President Bill McMeekin said. “We’re really not two separate colleges, we’re one district.”
The purpose of the re-organization is to save money by reducing the seven divisions to five. It also serves to open better channels of communication and create a consistency between programs within the two campuses.
However, the upcoming changes haven’t come without their difficulties and controversy.
One challenge has been deciding how to format each division. There were eight different proposals of which disciplines should belong in each division, but the instructional sub-group of the steering committee narrowed the options down to three on Feb. 24.
Another issue has been faculty response.
“We elected to go to division deans, and the majority of the faculty wanted campus based deans,” McMeekin said. “There’s been a lot of push and pull over that.”
The faculty’s concern with district divisions is the distance between the two campuses. Some faculty members dislike the idea that they won’t be able to walk to the office of a division member or their dean to discuss something face-to-face.
However, not all faculty members are discouraged by the upcoming changes. Roya Sabeti, division chair of math and sciences on the Puyallup campus for the past four years, is in favor of the re-organization.
“I think this new structure will be more conducive to working together as a district instead of being campus-centric,” Sabeti said.
Sabeti doesn’t intend to apply for a position as one of the five district division deans, and is instead looking forward to going back to teaching.
“It’s been a great experience,” Sabeti said. “I didn’t know what to expect when I became division chair, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
The re-organization isn’t stopping with the removal of campus-based divisions and division chairs. Changes also are being made to student services, administration and a new governance council will be implemented during the summer.
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