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Q&A on Restructuring and New Initiatives

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Here are commonly asked questions about the restructuring and new initiatives President Schrum announced Sept. 15

What was the process for identifying and endorsing the new initiatives? 

As part of a vision for going forward, Southwestern’s Board of Trustees charged President Schrum with developing a plan to include new bold initiatives to strengthen the academic program and stabilize the financial model.  The Executive Committee met on September 8 and approved the proposed plan. The President’s plan was developed in full by him, the Provost, and all members of the Senior Staff.

What is the timeframe for the new academic initiatives?

When considering the addition of the new academic programs, priority was placed on those programs that will be the most attractive to students and require the fewest new resources.

The new January term that replicates the existing May and June Terms will be vetted in Academic Affairs Council with a target implementation of January 2013. 

The proposed new degrees will require approval through the University’s governance councils, accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, as well as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. This will take a minimum of 12 months.

The merger between the Library and Information Technology Services will begin upon the hire of a Chief Information Officer.  The search will begin immediately.  He/she will be charged with continuing to improve information services campus-wide.  Under the leadership of the new CIO, working with President Schrum, these changes will be made through consolidation of the two units, assessing our needs, and planning for the future.

Southwestern’s new vision for its distinctive Paideia Program will enhance the interdisciplinary aspects of Paideia, while making it more central to the curriculum and involving all students. This process is still in the formative stages and the plan for the new program will be completed in the fall 2012.

What is translational medicine?

Often called “bench to bedside,” translational medicine is the process of integrating basic biomedical research and patient treatment.  In translational medicine, clinical experience and needs inform basic research and basic research informs clinical care.  Research in translational medicine seeks to quickly move research findings into medical practices that improve patient care.

Why is a Master’s in Translational Medicine an asset to a liberal arts college like Southwestern? 

Interdisciplinary study is the cornerstone of a Southwestern education and because one in five Southwestern students majors in the natural sciences, a degree in this emerging field will raise Southwestern’s visibility and further our already strong programs in the Natural Sciences. The opportunity to collaborate with a leading research institute in the world’s largest medical center provides exciting opportunities for our undergraduates. Translational medicine is a new frontier and Southwestern will be the first liberal arts college in the country to offer this program. A master’s in Translational Medicine will provide students with an advantage as they prepare for graduate or professional programs. It will lay the groundwork for PhD programs in translational medicine and equip students for breakthroughs in science and healthcare.

How will these initiatives be funded?

Each initiative will have a detailed budget projection for self-funding.  For some initiatives, specific fundraising is required. 

Funding for the master’s in Translational Medicine will receive “seed money” from The Methodist Hospital Research Institute (TMHRI) in its initial years; additional funding will come from joint fundraising efforts between Southwestern and TMHRI.

What is the plan for financial assistance going forward as Southwestern recruits the next class?                                              

Southwestern will be as generous as possible and will carefully manage the financial assistance budget to recruit a quality class, but not deplete other university resources.

Will the approved budget reductions enable Southwestern to balance the budget until the new initiatives can be launched?                                                     

Yes. For 2011-12, the University will have a small contingency. Adhering to a balanced budget will require strict fiscal management for the remainder of the 2011-2012 academic year.

Are additional workforce reductions anticipated?                                            

Not at this time. The re-structuring may take up to two years to fully implement.