LAS programs await approval to move to department status

A public hearing about reorganizing two programs within the College of LAS was held Wednesday in the Lucy Ellis Lounge of the Foreign Language Building. Approximately 20 people attended the meeting that addressed the future of Gender and Women’s Studies, or GWS, and Latina/Latino Studies, or LLS, at the University.

The GWS program is in the process of becoming the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, and the LLS program will become the Department of Latina/Latino Studies. They currently serve as programs.

“We’ve been planning the reorganization of both programs for over a year now,” said Ann Mester, associate dean of the College of LAS.

The reorganization of GWS and LLS was brought on by changes within the African American Studies and Religion programs, which already are their own departments, Mester said.

“Both programs (GWS and LLS) hold tenured faculty lines, and both offer curricular programming; in other words, they have been operating as if they were departments for a long time now,” she added.

Ruth Watkins, dean of the College of LAS, said the college fully supports the move of the programs to department status.

However, the proposals need to be approved by the University Senate Committee on Educational Policy before they are considered further.

Abbas Aminmansour, chair of the committee, said the proposals will be reviewed and discussed at a meeting held on Jan. 25.

“We might even vote on it (on Jan. 25),” Aminmansour said. “Once the committee approves the proposals, then it goes to the senate, which is in February.”

Aminmansour said the proposals would then be sent to the University Senate Conference, the Board of Trustees and finally the Board of Higher Education before being enacted.

One of the main concerns regarding the changes are budgetary implications, which Mester said will be minimal for both reorganizations.According to the proposals sent to the educational policy committee, the reorganizations will not need additional staff after becoming departments. Both programs will also need updated print material, which the proposal said will be at minimal cost. The proposal for GWS also states that a new, inexpensive sign will need to be ordered for the building.

Chantal Nadeau, director of GWS, said one of the hopes with the move to department status is an increase in funding.

“We have low funding now,” Nadeau said. “We hope the department status will increase sponsorship.”

Mester said the programs have been working hard to uphold the University’s mission statement of research, teaching and service.

“The long term outcome will be to give these units recognition for the work they are already doing,” Mester said.