The K-State women’s studies program and the K-State American ethnics program have both been elevated from programs to departments by the Kansas Board of Regents.
The change was approved by the council of the chief academic officers at the board on Oct. 16.
Breeze Richardson, associate director of communications and government relations for the Kansas Board of Regents, said the change required the approval of the chief academic officers of each institution rather than the approval of the entire board and the council of the presidents.
“It’s only when new money is being allocated that those other bodies also have to give approval,” Richardson said.
In an email, Michele Janette, associate professor of English and head of the women’s studies department, said the change was simply a change in official designation and that nothing in practice will change with the shift from program to department.
“For women’s studies, this is an official change in status that reflects the actual reality that has been in place for many years,” Janette said. “We have long had our own major, our own institutional budget, controlled our own curriculum and hired our own tenure-track faculty. Institutionally, this is a recognition of what women’s studies already is.”
Janette said the main benefit is that departments are more institutionally secure than programs.
Yolanda Broyles-González, university distinguished professor and director of the department of American ethnic studies, said in an email that the department of American ethnic studies most looks forward to the resources this will provide, as well as to the security that being a department adds.
“Currently we have only three tenure track faculty and two lecturers,” Broyles-González said. “We are probably the smallest unit on this campus. I trust the administration will give us the faculty resources we need in the near future.”
Richardson said the regents do not make decisions about what changes of this sort will be made at the university level. That part is left to the chief academic officers at each university and their staff.
“The Board of Regents trusts the universities and their chief academic officers and their staff to administer what happens at their universities,” Richardson said. “So they [the board] make the major policy decisions and leave it up to the university’s chief academic officers to determine the policies for their programs.”
In addition to the council of chief academic officers, some decisions require the regents and a separate board, the board of presidents, to also give approval.
Items that require approval of all three boards include new schools and departments that require state funding, new degree programs, extension of degree programs to higher levels (such as making an associate degree program a bachelor degree program), and adding new majors under an existing degree name.