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Reorganization effort shakes up department landscape

By Matthew Skog

Just as the seasons change, so too do the needs of Chemeketa’s programs and departments.

While the review and alteration of programs may come every year, the start of this school year ushered in some of the most sweeping changes to the college’s department and program hierarchies in recent memory.

“Every year there’s tweaking of the organization,” Jim Eustrom, the college’s vice president of instruction and student services, said. “We look to see if a program would be a better match to another area of the college.”

Eustrom coordinated the college’s reorganization efforts. He said that the idea for a major reorganization originated within the departments and programs themselves.

“They came together and they started talking,” he said. For example, “Visual Communications was in the Humanities, and in reality it’s a Career Technical degree. And then Engineering has always been in Career Technical, but actually it’s a transfer to Oregon State or OIT. So people started talking about it, and the idea grew up from that.

“It was that kind of conversation that was happening in smaller pockets that we listened to and said ‘OK, let’s bring all the deans from the academic areas together and put every program up on the board,’ literally. And then say ‘if we were going to redo things, totally, where should they go?’”

While it may sound like a complicated game of musical chairs, the reorganization served a vital purpose.

“We were trying to balance things out again,” Eustrom said. “We needed to reorganize in a way that made sense.” We needed to put “all the Career Technical programs together, all the transfer programs together – that was the main thing.”

One of the more radical changes was the integration of evening and weekend classes into the programs and departments that their courses stemmed from.

“The way they had been set up, they were separate entities, separate departments that worked with the academic programs,” Eustrom said. “But it wasn’t the responsibility of the English department to offer classes online, or during the evening and weekend. It was this other person who would say ‘can I borrow so and so to teach evening and weekend.’ … Now every program is responsible for their own evening and weekend classes.

“I think faculty and the academic deans had a true interest in what was happening in evening and weekend. Now the program areas have a little bit more responsibility, but also more control over the classes.”

Don Brase, the college’s dean of liberal arts and social sciences, was one of the deans who was directly effected by the reorganization.

“I’ve been here at Chemeketa for 23 years,” Brase said. “It seems like every six to10 years we have a reorganization. Some years it effects me more than others.”

Brase’s program was known as Humanities before the reorganization.

“This one… was about the academic areas,” he said. “There were a couple of us deans who were more affected than others. I would say there’s been some bumps, but not in a negative way. It’s just adjusting to new things.”

David Hallett, the college’s executive dean of general education and transfer studies, directly oversees many of the departments involved with the reorganization.

“The reorganization allowed the college to align Career Technical programs and General Education programs in a new way,” Hallett said. “Now all of the Career Technical programs are housed under the leadership of Johnny Mack, and I’m responsible for the General Education programs. This alignment will ultimately be better for students as we also align resources accordingly.”

Hallett said that the reorganization has been a relatively smooth experience.

“There have been great conversations and people understand the overall goals and vision of the reorganization,” he said. “I’ve received a lot of positive feedback and I’ll continue to support everyone as we progress through the changes.”

Eustrom said that while these changes may not be immediately visible to the average student, they will benefit students in the long run.

“The motivation behind it was what’s going to be best for the students in these programs,” he said. “That’s why it’s important. Most students won’t even notice it to be honest. Hopefully that energy will benefit students and the vibrancy of the programs they’re working with… It’s about what makes sense for students.”