Provost shakes up Academic Affairs to increase ‘efficiency’

(Kaitlin Tamosiunas/The DePaulia)
Five administrative staff members in Academic Affairs were moved around over the summer to increase efficiency and put more focus on developing academic programs. (Kaitlin Tamosiunas/The DePaulia)

Academic Affairs was reorganized this summer, which resulted in the elimination of six positions within the department. 

Provost Marten denBoer said these decisions were made to increase efficiency within the Academic Affairs department.

“One thing that we hope it will mean is that the programs we develop will be more attuned to the needs of students and be able to offer (the programs) in a more efficient manner because of the way that resources will be distributed,” he said.

denBoer said he felt several positions within Academic Affairs could be condensed and made to serve more effectively.

“If you have one person working on an area, it can often be more efficient than two people working on different parts of that area,” he said. 

While denBoer took the position last year, he wanted to wait until his first academic year was complete in order to fully analyze how things work at DePaul, he said.

“I could see that there were changes that needed to be made and efficiencies that needed to be realized,” he said.

One of the most important areas to look at during this process was the development of new academic programs.

“I think one of the things that’s really impressed me about DePaul is that we are very focused on students and providing courses and programs that meet students’ needs and that meet the needs of all the students,” denBoer said. “We don’t want to be a selective institution that only meets the needs of certain students.”

One problem denBoer noticed during his first year was many students who started at DePaul were not graduating from DePaul.

“Not everyone is succeeding, and that’s frankly a tragedy because students are spending time and money and not getting the degree they expect to get,” he said. “We need to help students succeed.”

Part of this is making sure academic programs are preparing more students for the workplace awaiting them after graduation.

“When (employers) see an applicant with a DePaul degree, they will recognize that person is someone who can be very effective in the workplace,” denBoer said.

Although six positions were eliminated during this reorganization, a new position as associate provost for Academic Programs and Faculty was created. After a month-long search, Lucy Rinehart filled the position.

Rinehart has worked with DePaul for almost 25 years. She has served in several capacities including interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), chair of the English department, associate dean for undergraduate studies in LAS and director of undergraduate studies in English.

“In all those positions, she’s really demonstrated a high level of achievement and success,” denBoer said. “She’s always been a really strong advocate for students and faculty. I’m very happy she expressed interest, applied and accepted the position.”

Phil Funk will be taking over the responsibilities of special assistant to the provost for health initiatives, and maintaining his current position as associate dean in the College of Science and Health.

“I think, at least for the area I’m in, there seems to be a lack of coordination,” he said. “The work wasn’t very connected. These changes will make things more effective, more helpful and more coordinated for those pursuing a degree.”

Funk said his goal is to increase to focus on health sciences in the college.

“I want to elevate the thinking of pursuing a degree in health sciences to more than just going to medical school,” he said.

The following were administrators moved to other departments, jobs or left the university during the reorganization of Academic Affairs:

– Alyssa Kupka will serve as senior associate vice president for academic business management, which focuses on academic space and scheduling for faculty affairs and oversees all academic business affairs.

– Ralph Erber previously acted as the associate vice president for academic space and scheduling, but will now serve as a psychology professor.

– Funk will be replacing Kay Thurn, who is retiring, as special assistant to the provost for health initiatives.

– Robert Karpinski will serve as associate vice president for academic initiatives, which will provide more academic support for DePaul’s cooperation with the Archdiocese of Chicago and collaboration with DePaul Prep.

– Kelly Johnson will be leaving her position as associate vice president for academic administration. This job, however, will not be replaced by a new hire. Instead, the responsibilities of this job will be handled by various departments including Rinehart and Kupka’s positions, and Enrollment Management and Marketing.

denBoer said his goals for the position go beyond just preparing students for a career, it’s also about preparing them for a quality life.

“We want to prepare students to be engaged citizens in the world as much as possible so that they care about the environment, social justice, helping each other, the arts and ensuring we’re doing that as well as possible.” he said.

With a new president preparing to step in for the 2016-17 academic year, denBoer is unsure what other changes will come to the department or the university.

“I’m really optimistic this reshaping of Academic Affairs will create new efficiencies and benefit our students in terms providing our students with better programs and more academic programs,” he said.