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Recommendations from the University Advisory Committee on Academic Structure

June 20, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

After seven months of thoughtful research and analysis, the University Advisory Committee on Academic Structure (UAC) delivered its report today during a Town Hall hosted by Provost Paul Jensen and Faculty Senate Chair Kevin Owens. As part of the 2030 Strategic Plan efforts, the UAC was charged in November with reviewing the organization of Drexel's academic units to ensure our structure is aligned to best meet our strategic priorities.

The recommendations in the report chart a path the UAC believes will keep Drexel at the forefront of higher education amid an increasingly challenging and competitive environment across the country.

To produce the report, the Committee solicited broad input from internal and external stakeholders through group discussions and surveys, conducted interviews with experts, including some of our closest external partners, and assessed internal and external data about the University and the higher education sector.

The Committee's recommendations are focused on enabling Drexel to deliver a more student-focused educational experience that supports transdisciplinary study based on the University's renowned experiential education model. Co-op remains a keystone of Drexel's academic vision that can only be strengthened through improved alignment with calendars of other schools as well as our partners. The report also suggests that making these adjustments would position us as a more compatible partner for future research and academic collaborations, bolster Drexel's reputation and strengthen financial and operational efficiency.

The primary recommendations are:

  • Cluster academic disciplines and structures to support interdisciplinary coordination of research, program development, partnerships and resources;
  • Establish consistency in structure and policies to create organizational alignment across clusters;
  • Switch to a semester-based calendar for all academic programs;
  • Institute core competency requirements for all undergraduate students to provide differentiating skills that define a Drexel student; and
  • Consider changes to the use of physical space to support cluster coordination, faculty and professional staff collaboration and overall student experience.

While these recommendations present a path forward for Drexel, they require — and will benefit from — an intensive review period for addressing the Drexel community's questions and feedback while also identifying additional work needed to assess the feasibility of implementing these recommendations. Provost Jensen and Faculty Senate Chair Owens will share more details on this process and next steps this week.

At this time, I would like to recognize and extend my gratitude to Paul and Kevin for initiating this work, and to the entire Committee chaired by Rena Cumby, associate professor and Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Affairs chair, and Aleister Saunders, executive vice provost of Research & Innovation, for their efforts to make this substantial undertaking a collaborative one that will help to move the University forward.


John Fry