UWM to consolidate, realign some colleges and schools

The UWM Zilber School of Public Health at the former Pabst Brewrey site.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will consolidate eight schools and colleges into four new colleges, under a plan recently approved by the UW System Board of Regents.

The realignment is expected to generate unspecified cost savings from reductions in administrative functions, according to an announcement this week.

The plan was included in UWM’s 2030 report – a set of recommendations released last spring that set a course for the university amid its mounting financial constraints.

Out of the mergers will emerge four new colleges:

  • College of Architecture and the Arts: Comprised of the current School of Architecture and Peck School of the Arts. Both schools would maintain their own identities.
  • College of Applied Social Sciences: Comprised of the School of Education, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, School of Information Studies and Department of Urban Planning.
  • Three current health-related colleges/schools will consolidate into two colleges. The Joseph J. Zilber College of Public Health will include the current Zilber school and the College of Health Sciences’ kinesiology department and nutrition program along with Health Informatics faculty and associate programs. The College of Health Professions and Sciences will be comprised of the School of Nursing, School of Biomedical Sciences and School of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology.

The new colleges are expected to be in place by July 2023.

The 2030 report cites several factors driving the reorganization, including demographic shifts, declining enrollment, decreased state support and changing expectations regarding higher education. It also suggests that a merger of schools/colleges could ease students’ ability to take classes and instructors’ ability to teach across disciplines.

The plan will reduce the number of Academic Affairs administrative structures from 16 to 11, which could mean better coordination and integration of services, according to plans submitted to the Board of Regents. The reorganization is “not intended as a means to reduce staffing,” but it would reduce “administrative layers” and produce cost savings and efficiencies, UWM said in an announcement. Documents submitted to the Regents say “with fewer units comes fewer administrative positions and duplicated services for each unit,” acknowledging that many of the affected units are relatively small.

The plan won’t result in a reduction of faculty positions or affect UWM’s program array, the university said. Programs will continue using existing spaces and facilities on campus.

The reorganization will also result in fewer dean-level positions.

Under the plan, the dean of the current College of Health Sciences, Timothy Behrens, will become the dean of the Zilber College of Public Health. The dean of the current College of Nursing, Kim Litwack, will become the dean of the College of Health Professions and Sciences. And the dean of the current Helen Bader School of Social Work, Tina Freiburger, will become the dean of the College of Applied Social Sciences. UWM will conduct a search for a dean of the College of Architecture and the Arts.

An organization chart submitted to the regents indicates associate dean will oversee the distinct schools within the new colleges — the School of Architecture and Peck School of the Arts, for example.

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