The University of St. Thomas is undergoing a drastic restructuring to achieve financial stability and accomplish the goals of the Call Toward Tomorrow, according to UST President Richard Ludwick.
The final plan will be approved by December 2019 and implemented over the 2020-2021 academic school year, according to UST Board of Directors Chair Curtis W. Huff.
The Board finalized the non-academic portion of the restructuring on Oct. 7. As a result, UST’s current Admissions and Student Affairs offices will merge to form Enrollment Management and Student Engagement, and will be headed by current Vice President for Enrollment Management Arthur Ortiz.
Marketing and Communications, meanwhile, will merge with Alumni Relations and Career Services to become Marketing and University Relations. This new division will be led by current Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jeff Olsen.
In exclusive interviews with the Independent, Ludwick said the restructuring is necessary because UST will not be able to operate long-term without it.
According to Ludwick, faculty was given the opportunity to submit proposals and ideas for the restructuring in August 2019. One idea brought forward was the “merging and reformation” of departments, he said.
“Some of the proposals that we have received from the faculty have suggested that, and I think some of that makes really good sense,” he said.
When asked about changes to faculty and departments, Ludwick said some departments in the University are “blossoming,” while others are not.
According to Ludwick, the University’s STEM programs have been in higher demand in recent years than the humanities programs, and indicated the restructuring should reflect that.
“If our students want to make biology the largest major here, then it’s going to be the largest major,” he said.
Olsen said the new plan is about serving the “demands” of UST students.
“I think it’s also really about finding new ways to take the things that really matter to this University and deliver them to the people that want them,” he said.
Ludwick said this “moment of change” is needed at UST to accomplish the goals of the CTT.
“In the life of any organization, you have periods where you surge and other periods where you maintain and get stronger and then surge again, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
All final decisions about the restructuring will be made by UST’s Board of Directors, Ludwick said.
“Ultimately, in all these decisions, the Board of Directors will get to decide, because they are the ultimate decision-making authority, so the role of the administration is to help generate these ideas and hear the different constitutes talk.”
According to Huff,the Board plans to meet two more times over the semester to “take action.”
“The changes proposed will require the campus community to work together for a common goal: the future success and legacy of UST,” Huff wrote in an email. “Change is never easy and we must be prepared.”
Huff noted that Vice President of Academic Affairs Chris Evans is leading the academic side of the plan and is working closely with Faculty Senate Chair and International Studies Chair professor Hans Stockton.
In an email to the Independent, Evans wrote that faculty is working on proposals for the academic restructuring, but did not indicate which faculty members were involved.
“Until we advance in the process, I have no details,” he wrote.