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College of Sciences Update

Memo from the Provost

Date: August 30, 2012

To: University Leaders

From: Warwick A. Arden, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor

Subject: Update on College of Sciences

Four months ago Chancellor Woodson announced the replacement of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences with a broader, more comprehensive College of Sciences (COS) to include the physical/chemical sciences, the mathematical and statistical sciences, the biological sciences and the earth system sciences, effective July 1, 2013.

The decision to include the biological sciences, currently housed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), in a new College of Sciences was made after extensive faculty discussion and input aimed at enhancing the capacity of the biological and life sciences at NC State while enhancing our commitment to the agricultural sciences. Our ultimate goal is to position both COS and CALS for national and international prominence in their respective fields.

COS Steering Committee Progress

Since the chancellor’s announcement, the COS Steering Committee has met several times and made significant progress, making key decisions to facilitate the timely implementation of the new college. Overviews of those meetings are available at

After discussing several models for the organization of the biological sciences, the Steering Committee focused on outlining the scope of the biological sciences within COS while maintaining key life science strengths core to the agricultural disciplines in CALS.  The committee did not prescribe a specific administrative structure for the biological disciplines in COS or those remaining in CALS, believing that these organizational frameworks must be developed through the college-level engagement of faculty.

The Steering Committee next reviewed the roster of 63 current tenured/tenured track (T/TT) faculty in four CALS life sciences departments (Biology, Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Genetics, and Microbiology) for best fit in COS or CALS. An initial list, indicating who would join COS and who would remain in CALS, was then shared with the T/TT faculty in the four departments. Duane Larick and I met with the head and T/TT faculty in each department to review and discuss the list and faculty were encouraged to provide individual input and feedback.

The list was refined based on the group and individual discussions and feedback, and I accepted the final recommendation of the Steering Committee on August 22nd. Of the 63 T/TT faculty in the four departments, 44 will join COS and 19 will remain in CALS. For additional information, view the faculty list. For those who leave CALS, only their academic funding will follow them into COS, with all agricultural research and extension funding remaining in CALS for future deployment within the college.  

Special kudos to Sylvia Blankenship, interim dean of CALS, Dan Solomon, dean of PAMS and inaugural dean of COS, and Duane Larick, administrative lead of the COS Steering Committee and senior vice provost for strategic initiatives, for putting significant time and effort into refining the T/TT faculty list and coordinating with the four departments. I also appreciate the thoughtful consideration shown by the department heads, Harry Daniels, Gerald LeBlanc, Eric Miller and David Threadgill, and their faculty in reviewing the list.

COS Implementation Teams

In late July and early August, three of the five planned COS Implementation Teams were appointed and charged:

  • Academic Programs, Personnel and Policy - Chaired by Duane Larick, senior vice provost for strategic initiatives. 
  • Budget and Finance - Chaired by Vicki Pennington, assistant vice provost.
  • Space, Infrastructure and Shared Resources - Chaired by Terri Lomax, vice chancellor for research, innovation and economic development.
  • Two additional implementation teams, Student Support and Outreach (to be chaired by Mike Mullen, vice chancellor and dean for academic and student affairs) and Communications, Development and Alumni Relations (Advancement), will be named soon.

View more details on the membership and charges of the implementation teams.

Next Steps

With the list of T/TT faculty transitioning from CALS to COS finalized, the COS Academic Personnel, Programs and Policy Implementation Team is now working to determine which academic programs and which non-tenure track faculty, non-faculty EPA staff and SPA staff will move from CALS to COS. I hope to have these lists very soon and I will provide another COS update once these important program and personnel decisions have been made.

As mentioned above, the Steering Committee did not recommend specific administrative structures within COS or CALS. Dan Solomon will soon engage the incoming COS biological sciences faculty to create a vision and strategic plan as well as determine the best organizational framework for the biological sciences within COS. Similarly, incoming Dean Rich Linton will begin a strategic planning process shortly for CALS which will include significant faculty and stakeholder input on the organization and vision of the life sciences in the college, and better position CALS to meet the agricultural challenges of the future.

I am confident that, as we move closer to July 2013 and the years to follow, NC State will emerge with two exceptionally strong colleges and become a stronger university overall. I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this process to date for their hard work and diligence, and I will keep you updated as additional progress is made.

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