Summer restructuring within college of Health Sciences and Human Services nears completion

The college of Health Sciences and Human Services at Murray State has undergone a restructuring to better condense and order its departments and promote inter-departmental fraternization between faculty.

The proposal to restructure the college of Health Sciences and Human Services (HSHS) was approved by the Board of Regents on June 1, and the college has worked since then to complete its new organization.

The college of Health Sciences and Human Services is made up of three departments: the department of Occupational Safety and Health, the department of Social Work, Criminal Justice and Gerontology and the department of Wellness and Therapeutic Sciences.  Together these three departments serve approximately 1300 students.

The HSHS encompass an eclectic assortment of majors and minors that aim to prepare students for a variety of positions later in life, such as in the fields of exercise science, nutrition and pre-physical training as well as in positions in environmental safety and health, law enforcement, and adult and juvenile corrections.  It is this great range of seemingly unrelated fields that has made finding a suitable ordering so difficult.

Bonnie Higginson, vice president of Academic Affairs said that these programs are aligned in the sense that they have emphases on health or are related to human services or occupations.

“There was an imbalance,” said Higginson, “One of the departments in the college was quite large and had a number of degree programs and faculty in different disciplines and so on – so the effort was to balance the departments in the college and to have greater alignment.”

The faculty of HSHS and its deans were the main architects of this proposal and all had input on the restructuring through open discussions held over the summer.  They looked at the different disciplines and what they had in common with each other and at what physical locations suited and supported the different classes.  The only department not to be affected by the restructuring this summer was the department of Occupational Safety and Health.

Susan Muller, dean of the college of HSHS said the restructuring‘s goal was primarily to group the classes and faculty of the departments in buildings with others from their same department.  She said having common faculty located side by side will allow for easier communication within departments and encourages collaboration throughout the programs.

Muller said the restructuring of the college was more “behind the scenes”.  She said the changes were made to better organize the faculty and administration, and their effects will most likely not be felt by students. “If you asked a student from one of the departments they probably wouldn’t even know the restructuring is happening.” Muller said.

This is the first year that Muller is dean of the college and this is the also the first time that the college has been restructured since its founding in 2000.

“When the college was first starting out they organized it in a way that worked pretty well but wasn’t permanent,” Muller said. “Now we need to look at how we can make it better.”

All that is left to do before the restructuring is officially finished is the inspection of one last floor in the Applied Science building.  This inspection should be completed by the end of the week.

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.