The University of St. Thomas this summer is implementing major changes to its academic organizational structure, including the creation of a College of Business and a College of Arts and Sciences.

The changes go into effect today and link more closely many of the university’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

The reorganization was first announced by the Rev. Dennis Dease, president of the university, in April 2000.

“In a process that began more than a decade ago, the changes mark a significant step in our evolution from a college to a university,” explained Dr. Ralph Pearson, vice president for academic affairs. “These new colleges bring together related undergraduate and graduate programs in the same organizational structure. It will create a synergy that will benefit students, faculty and the university.”

The changes are the most far-reaching made at St. Thomas since 1990, when it formally changed from a college to a university. At that time, St. Thomas created an undergraduate College that offered bachelor’s degrees only, and established a series of graduate schools that offered master’s and doctorates only.

The new College of Business brings together all business-related undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The many centers that had been affiliated with the Graduate School of Business now are affiliated with the College of Business.

Under the old structure, the undergraduate Division of Business, which was part of the undergraduate College, offered a dozen business administration majors in the areas of accounting, communication, entrepreneurship, financial management, general business management, human resources management, international business, leadership and management, legal studies in business, marketing management, operations management and real estate studies.

Also under the old structure, the Graduate School of Business offered an evening and weekend M.B.A. program in 16 concentrations. In separate programs it also offered a day M.B.A. program, executive M.B.A., master of science in real estate, master of business communication, master of international management, and the M.B.A. in accounting, human resource management and medical group management.

The number of students involved is substantial. This past year, about half of the university’s 6,000 graduate students were in the former Graduate School of Business, and about 2,000 of the 5,500 undergraduates were in the former Division of Business. Another 20,000 individuals annually participate in the nondegree programs, courses and seminars offered by the centers affiliated with the College of Business. Based on the number of degree-seeking students, the former Graduate School of Business last year was the nation’s fourth-largest.

Most graduate-level College of Business courses will be offered on the university’s Minneapolis campus, and most undergraduate business courses will be offered on the St. Paul campus.

Bringing together undergraduate and graduate programs within a single school or college is not new at St. Thomas. The stage for this summer’s mergers was set in the fall of 1996 when bachelor’s programs in education became part of the School of Education, and bachelor’s programs in social work became part of the School of Social Work.

The new College of Arts and Sciences is now home to all St. Thomas undergraduate majors, with the exception of majors in business, education and social work. St. Thomas offers 83 major fields of study; all but 15 are in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Also in the new College of Arts and Sciences are all graduate programs that had been in the former Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. These are the master’s programs in music education, English, art history and Catholic studies.

As with the College of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences will organizationally connect graduate and undergraduate programs in music, English, art history and Catholic studies. There already had been close ties with English, art history and Catholic studies, because the graduate programs in those areas grew out of the undergraduate programs. The biggest change will be combining the undergraduate Music Department with Graduate Programs in Music Education because they had different origins and have been more independent of one another.

Will the new colleges lead to changes in how St. Thomas students, especially undergraduates, enroll at the university? Pearson explained that most freshmen will enroll in the College of Arts and Sciences. During their freshman and sophomore years, when they select a major field, students either will remain in the College of Arts and Sciences, or will transfer to another college or school within the university.

A student who wants to major in history, for example, will remain in the College of Arts and Sciences. A student who decides to major in marketing management will transfer to the College of Business. Similarly, students majoring in secondary education will transfer to the School of Education, and students majoring in social work will transfer to the School of Social Work.

In the past, the academic dean for all undergraduates was Dr. Thomas Connery, who had been dean of the undergraduate College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Now, Connery will be dean only of those students in the College of Arts and Sciences.

A national search is underway for a new dean of the College of Business. The new dean’s main office is expected to be on the Minneapolis campus, but he or she likely will have a St. Paul office as well.

The undergraduate School of Continuing Studies, originally called New College when it was established 25 years ago, will continue and will be separate from the College of Arts and Sciences. The School of Continuing Studies replaced New College in 1997 and offers undergraduate programs for older or nontraditional students.

Prior to July 1, the university offered its degrees through 10 divisions. It now offers degrees through nine divisions. They consist of:

  • College of Business (master’s and bachelor’s)
  • College of Arts and Sciences (master’s and bachelor’s)
  • School of Law (juris doctor)
  • School of Education (doctorate, education specialist, master’s and bachelor’s)
  • School of Social W
    ork (master’s and bachelor’s)
  • School of Applied Science and Engineering (master’s and bachelor’s)
  • St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity (doctorate and master’s)
  • Graduate Department of Professional Psychology (doctorate, master’s)
  • School of Continuing Studies (bachelor’s)

For those offices and departments with new names, the university is asking that they use existing supplies of printed materials, and to use the new names when reordering letterhead and related supplies.

“One thing that has not changed is the university’s mission and its commitment to liberal arts education,” Pearson said. “I would like to emphasize that all undergraduates, whether they are in the College of Business or the College of Arts and Sciences, must complete the same core requirements for graduation.

“I think these changes will enhance other characteristics for which St. Thomas is well-known … its creativity, energy and entrepreneurship,” Pearson added. “Those are benefits that will flow from the synergy and increased interaction that come from linking graduate and undergraduate departments.”

Dr. Bill Raffield, longtime director of the former Division of Business, described the changes this summer as “an opportunity to build a new structure that is greater than the sum of its parts.

“We have many dedicated faculty and staff who will work hard to make that happen,” he said.