UNION COUNTY, NJ — Although in recent weeks adjuncts at Union County College blasted the administration for the reorganization taking place, the powers that be are sure they are moving in a positive direction that will benefit students in the long run.
While it is becoming more common for both two-year colleges and four-year universities to rely on adjunct educators to augment a shrinking tenured faculty, these teachers often are disgruntled because they feel they are ignored or treated unfairly.
In recent months adjuncts at UCC spoke out strongly against the administration, which they said is eliminating seven or eight departments previously chaired and coordinated by tenured professors, in lieu of five divisions that will be overseen by Deans hired from the outside.
Tenured professors that LocalSource spoke with at UCC admitted they were not happy with the reorganization, but most admitted they were waiting to see how the new divisions headed by Deans work out. Adjuncts, though, felt a two-year community college did not need such a change and the move smacked of “a huge ego and power play.”
Stephen Nacco, UCC Vice President of Administrative Services and Executive Assistant to President Margaret McMenamin, however, strongly disagreed with comments made by adjuncts regarding this change.
He explained the college’s 2014-15 reorganization of the Academic Affairs Division has a number of objectives, specifically the need for 12-month administrative management.
“The reorganization is predicated on the hiring of deans to replace tenured faculty chairs who work only nine-months each year and are absent during the critical enrollment period of July and August,” Nacco explained.
He said the change was intended to improve overall quality control of academic programming, personnel hiring and “the means of assessing program, course and student learning outcomes.”
Nacco said that not having faculty on board during the time students are registering for classes was a problem.
“This is a critical time for students. They need to be able to ask questions and address any problems they have with specific courses, so by having Deans we have staff aboard 12 months a year, not nine,” he added.
Nacco said specifically the organizational changes involve the transferring of the management of academic departments from eight faculty member chairs and two directors to four academic deans. The four academic divisions are Allied Health and Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences and Business, and STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“The reorganization ensures we are able to manage the college more efficiently and without increasing overall personnel cost,” Nacco said, noting everything is moving along according to schedule.
“The new structure will be in place on July 1, with academic deans hard at work managing their divisions on the day their predecessors, those eight faculty department heads, would traditionally begin their two-month vacation,” he added.
The move by UCC to place Deans in charge of divisions is not isolated or by any means a new concept adopted by the Cranford-based county college. In fact, according to information obtained by LocalSource, it has become the norm for county colleges to move in this direction. While the enrollment numbers for the following statistics are from 2012, these colleges have already moved over to deans heading academic affairs.
Academic affairs includes managing class scheduling, room schedules, enrollment management, adjunct hiring and all other matters involving academics.
For example, nearby Middlesex County College has two deans overseeing the academic affairs of 12,732 students. Union County College has four deans and 12,416 students.
By comparison, Brookdale Community College has a student enrollment of 14,613 and four deans. Ocean County College, on the other hand, has six deans and a student enrollment of 10,317 while Atlantic Cape Community College also has four deans, but just 7,592 students.
Rowan College of Gloucester County has eight deans and a student body of 6,829, while Hudson County College has an enrollment of 9,414 and one dean and three assistant deans who oversee the academic areas.
Sussex County Community College has three deans overseeing their academic affairs, but a student enrollment of 3,794, and Essex County College is in the process of reorganizing their administration to include deans.