College finds strength in numbers
(from "UCLA Today")
In January 2008, the College of Letters and Science embarked upon an interim governance plan that gave its five deans an equal share of leadership — a "collective leadership," as it were.
Modeled after similar systems at UC Berkeley, Davis and Santa Barbara, the interim plan called for the five deans to serve as members of a brand-new College Cabinet that would manage the business of the College. The deans would be expected to fulfill their divisional duties while sharing responsibilities previously handled by the former executive dean, Patricia O'Brien, who resigned in December 2007.
Last month — after two years of testing — the cabinet model of governance was approved by Chancellor Gene Block and Scott Waugh, executive vice chancellor and provost of the College.
"The function of the College over the past two years has demonstrated the effectiveness of the cabinet model," Waugh said in a memo to College faculty and staff, deans, directors and administrative officers. "In addition to supporting academic excellence within divisions, the model has facilitated stronger interdivisional collaboration. It also represents a significant cost savings. Over the past two years, the Office of the Deans has eliminated eight staff positions and reduced expenditures by approximately $800,000 per year."
After the College began using the interim cabinet model in 2008, two new deans were appointed: Victoria Sork, Division of Life Sciences, on Sept. 1, and Alessandro Duranti, Division of Social Sciences, on July 1. Additionally, Joseph Rudnick, who had been serving as interim dean of physical sciences, was named the permanent dean on Aug. 1.
Along with Judith L. Smith, dean/vice provost for undergraduate education, and Tim Stowell, dean of humanities, the College's top positions are now filled. Smith has been appointed chair of the cabinet for a two-year term, during which time she will represent the College on the Chancellor's Executive Committee, convene the College Cabinet and other management groups, work with the chief of staff to manage the Office of the Deans and sustain a College-wide strategic plan for fundraising.
Two years ago, when the five deans (which then included Emil Reisler of life sciences and Reynaldo Macías as acting dean of social sciences) assumed the collective leadership of the College, they found that they had to restructure the Office of the Deans.
"The surprise was that the finances of this office were not in good stead," Smith said. "We found that we really had to downsize. We also decentralized the resources that had been held by the executive dean and distributed about $1.7 million to help divisions with their academic programs. So all the central money has now been dispersed. Each dean controls his or her own budget and reports directly to the provost."
Like before, each dean has an executive assistant, an associate dean, an assistant dean, an academic personnel analyst, budget analyst and director of development, among other employees. The difference now is that the deans also have the cross-services of staff members who work for the College Cabinet, including chief of staff Julie Sina and Steve Jennings, executive director for College development.
"We call this a sort of organizational matrix, so that each division has its own people. But the [College Cabinet staff] cross over and work for all five divisions," Smith said. The reorganization also includes a College Counsel, which consists of the directors of the units that provide these College-wide services.
Smith pointed out that the College Cabinet has worked hard to remove any hierarchy. "When the Cabinet meets, we work on consensus," Smith said. "We also share each other's academic plans and talk about how difficult it is to do budget cuts. We share best practices. So what has happened is that the deans have a much greater understanding of the College as a whole."