Cherry Blossoms

Message from Divisional Dean Brian Reed to the Humanities Division

November 8, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to let you know about an impending change to staffing in the Humanities division.

Our current group of departmentally based advisors has done wonderful work, and I am profoundly grateful to them. We have, though, had full and part-time faculty, administrators, graduate students, and full- and part-time professional staff all doing the work of advising in different departments, and students have experienced unevenness and unpredictability as a consequence, and departmental advisors have not always been able to speak with authority about the full range of what is possible as a student of the Humanities.

In addition, the Humanities division has been facing an enrollment problem. We are down over forty five percent in degrees granted since 2013. In 2018-2019 our twelve departments together graduated fewer majors than individual departments such as Biology and Communications. Given the budgeting constraints and formulae under which the College of Arts and Sciences operates, this is not a sustainable institutional situation. It is essential for us to find creative ways to deliver a first-class experience for our students and deliver on the university’s educational mission.

By October 1, 2020, we are going to have in place a new consolidated Humanities undergraduate advising unit that will consist of six positions: a director of advising, three advisors, a curriculum coordinator, and an administrative assistant. This consolidation will enable us to act in a coordinated fashion to connect undergraduates with departments and programs, and it will help us meet one of our students’ most recurrent requests: clarity regarding course scheduling during and across academic years.

A division-level consolidation of undergraduate advising will entail a move of all of the transactional work involved in such advising out of departments, which means that some professional staff will have part or all of their current positions phased out by July 1, 2020. The affected staff were notified today, and Cynthia Caci, the College Director of Advising, and Kevin Mihata, the Associate Dean of Educational Programs, will be working with them over the coming months to identify the extent to which this reorganization impacts them. They will be encouraged to apply for the new divisional advising jobs, and HR will be working with them on future planning.

Hiring for new positions will take place over the next few months, and I anticipate that when hired the new director will work closely with chairs to build channels of communication, design workflows, and otherwise resolve how it may best serve our departments and students.

This consolidated Humanities undergraduate advising unit will be well positioned to advise a range of students about all the possible majors and courses that the division offers. It will be able help coordinate schedules and curricular opportunities across all of our departments. It will give students somewhere to go from the moment that they express an interest in our courses and programs through the point that they actively begin seeking future employment.

Change is difficult. We have had departmentally based advising in the Humanities division as far back as anyone can remember. But we have also never faced an enrollment situation as we do now, and we have to pool our resources and make use of them in the best possible manner so that we can provide an excellent education for all of our students. We have created a web page that can answer some of your likely questions about this reorganization and I, or others in the Arts and Sciences Deans Office, are available to speak with you, too.

Yours sincerely,

Brian Reed
Divisional Dean, Humanities
Milliman Endowed Chair in the Humanities
College of Arts and Sciences
University of Washington, Seattle

 More Information: Humanities Advising Consolidation