University looks to restructure health science department

The nursing department, housed in Augustus Storrs Hall, pictured above, will be one of the many health related majors to be restructured in the “College of Health.” Others include majors within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as the physical therapy and athletic training majors. (Jackson Haigis/Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut is currently considering a proposal to radically restructure health related majors by creating a unified school of health sciences.

The new “College of Health” would include existing health related majors within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as nursing, physical therapy and athletic training.   

“Like many colleges and universities, UConn is always interested in reviewing ways to best ensure that its curriculum is in line with modern approaches to teaching, research and service,” UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said.

Nationally, there has been a growing trend for universities to move toward more interconnected relationships between health related departments. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management has been particularly vocal in encouraging this trend. 

In an officially released video created by MIT, Sloan Lecturer Steve Spear discusses the importance of training and interaction between various different specialties within the medical field. He particularly explains the effect that increased cooperation will have on increasing medical efficiency and driving down rising healthcare costs.

During the summer of 2015, the Office of the Provost created and charged the University of Connecticut Health College/Structure Committee with determining if the university’s health science related departments could be structured more efficiently.

“The group has been working diligently on this assignment and we appreciate the time and dedication its members have committed to this review,” Reitz said.

Some of the committee’s key objectives include determining if restructuring can increase research, scholarship and publications through better collaboration Additionally, the group is responsible for analyzing if there can be a reduction of duplication of efforts in teaching across common areas. 

The Health College/Structure Committee is composed of 11 members and includes representatives from all the departments that could possibly be subjected to restructuring. 

Specifically, there could potentially be changes made to the School of Pharmacy Departments, School of Nursing, School of Social Work, Department of Allied Health, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Department of Community Medicine, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy, Department of Speech, Center for Public Health and Health Policy and the Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention.

Nonetheless, there will be a significant amount of analysis and review before any significant changes are made.

“If any potential changes are considered, we plan robust conversation in advance with deans, department heads and faculty, and would also hold Town Hall meetings for all interested members of the UConn community,” Reitz said. 

According to Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Sally Reis, the report finalizing the committee’s findings is currently under progress. The Board of Trustees is expected to receive a detailed report summarizing the recommendations of the committee by May 2016.

Fatir Qureshi is a staff writer at The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at fatir.qureshi@uconn.edu.