FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is this project designed to accomplish?
The project will be a comprehensive review of CNS’ organizational structure, staffing, and practices, including the College’s intersection with University systems and central offices. The goal is to determine the optimal organization, staff, administrative systems, and practices for the College. The ultimate goals of the effort include:
- An even stronger reputation for CNS as a premier college of science and destination for exceptional students, faculty, and staff
- A better experience for students
- Increased research funding that enables us to transform lives
- A greater ability to support faculty and staff career goals and professional aspirations
- Streamlined practice and processes that make it easier for CNS faculty and staff to do their work
- A more inclusive culture and enhanced quality of work life for all CNS members
- Clearer direction regarding where we need to invest resources
- Stronger and more effective partnerships across the University
What prompted this organizational review?
Public research universities across the United States are facing a number of challenges to their traditional operating models. There are increasing calls for access, quality, equity, and affordability. At the same time, universities are grappling with national declines in student enrollment, an increasingly competitive research-funding environment, and declining percentages of state funding. These forces are prompting UMass and others to examine administrative practices and delivery models.
Is this project designed to respond to pandemic-related budget challenges?
No. This project was announced in February of 2020 but was paused to allow the University to respond to pandemic-related challenges.
Why was the college of natural sciences selected for this review?
As the largest academic unit on campus, CNS was selected for an organizational review with a consulting partner that will quickly improve practices and processes that support students, faculty, and staff within the college.
Will other colleges or division undergo a similiar review?
While there are no plans for additional reviews at this time, lessons learned from the College of Natural Sciences project will be useful as UMASS considers future organizational assessment activities.
Who is leading this effort?
While the project is being sponsored by the Provost, the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, and the Associate Chancellor/CNS Dean, the project is being led by a steering committee that includes both CNS and University members.
How is the organizational review process be conducted?
In addition to a review of a variety of documents and data sets, there will be extensive interviews and focus groups with CNS students, faculty, and staff. Surveys may also be conducted. The information-gathering process will be followed by a design phase in which leaders, faculty, and staff will have an opportunity to comment on new structures and practices that may be recommended.
How were people selected for the interviews in the Assessment Phase?
Understanding that we just do not have the ability to interview everyone, our goal, when developing the interview list, was to include the fullest variability of participants and their respective work experiences in the process. This comprised elements such as time worked here at UMASS, level of roles in the organization, department affiliation, set of responsibilities, engagement with other areas across campus, etc. Our goal was to provide the Segal team with the widest breadth of perspectives, experiences, and connections from the CNS community. Further, to ensure additional opportunities of feedback, we included key groups, such as the Business Managers, Human Resource Leads, Dean's Staff Advisory Committee, and Union leadership, to meet with the Segal team, again providing more opportunities for engagement and feedback.
How long will this project take?
The project is expected to be completed, with its recommendations, in February, 2023.
Will there be regular updates about the project?
The project sponsors expect transparency will be a hallmark of this effort. The project will be using a variety of communication venues to provide regular updates.
Is a consultant involved?
Yes. UMass has engaged the North American consulting firm Segal to serve as an objective partner in this review process. This firm has extensive experience working with higher education institutions. Several members of the consulting team assigned to this project held faculty and staff roles inside major public research universities, so they understand higher education practices and culture.
How was the consulting firm selected?
The consulting firm was selected through a competitive bidding process based on the quality and scope of its work. The cost associated with hiring a consultant is an important investment in CNS’ future and is aligned with ongoing processes to continually assess and advance administrative operations across the campus.