As part of West Virginia University’s ongoing commitment to adapt and innovate amid a changing higher education landscape, the Office of the Provost announced Wednesday, May 19, the University’s plan to merge the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and the College of Education and Human Services to create a new college focused on human and youth development.
“This reorganization makes a very strong statement about West Virginia University’s commitment to transformation,” President Gordon Gee said. “It is imperative that the University identify new academic areas of growth and differentiation to overcome the challenges facing higher education. At the same time, we must also capitalize on opportunities for greater expertise and excellence as we position our institution for prominence now and in the future.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed said that this particular realignment builds on the strengths and collaborative nature of both colleges to create an even more competitive academic unit.
“By merging these two colleges, which already share much in common, we can bring together the talents and expertise of each unit to create new in-demand academic programs, provide enhanced academic and career services and build on our interdisciplinary research efforts,” Reed said.
The merger has been under consideration for several years at WVU but gained more urgency following the December 2020 charge from President Gee to accelerate the University’s academic transformation efforts. During the spring semester, the Office of the Provost conducted peer benchmarking research across Big 12, regional and research peers and found that many institutions already align similar programs in a single college, including Iowa State University, University of Kansas, Oklahoma State University, Michigan State University, George Mason University and the University of Tennessee.
While the decision has been made to create a new college at WVU, the specifics, including its name and how it will be structured, have yet to be determined.
Leadership from both colleges will begin working this summer to map out the potential structure for the new college. The Provost’s Office will present the planning process and timeline to the Board of Governors during its June 25 meeting.
“This new college has the potential to be a leader across WVU and the state for its shared expertise in education, physical activity and youth development,” Reed said. “But for this new combined unit to ultimately be successful, it will require the input and shared vision of key stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students and alumni. There will be ample opportunity to participate in helping to shape the future direction of this new college and strengthen its purpose and vision.”
During the 2021-22 academic year, several working groups will be assigned to address the various aspects of the merger, such as academic programming, promotion and tenure guidelines and practices, and administrative and student support services. These groups will provide opportunities for employees, students and alumni from both colleges to engage in the planning process.
“CEHS and CPASS have already focused individually in recent years to evolve their curriculum and programs to meet both student and market needs,” Reed said. “Because of that, we do not anticipate this merger will result in the elimination of academic programs. Instead, we believe it will lead to the creation of new academic programs that are highly relevant and that will attract new students to the University.”
Students currently enrolled in either college will not see their degree programs impacted by the merger.
A national search for a new founding dean will likely begin in spring semester of 2022, with the new college launching the following fall.
Details about academic transformation efforts can be found on the Provost’s Office website.