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'You have to do it right': College of Education, Health and Aviation to merge with Human Sciences in next two years

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Exterior of Willard Hall

The College of Education, Health and Aviation and College of Human Sciences are merging within the next two years, Oklahoma State University’s provost and senior vice president said.

Gary Sandefur said details are being worked out “because you have to make sure that you do it right.”

The merger involves not only the combined students, faculty and staff of both colleges, but also the registrar and the bursar’s office, he said.

“So I anticipate it will take something like a year-and-a-half to two years,” Sandefur said.

In an email Dec. 27, Sandefur told students the merger would “better serve students and the state by drawing on current synergies and strengths in the departments and schools in these two Colleges.”

This email is how students found out about the merger. OSU president, both senior vice presidents and College of Human Sciences Dean and Interim Education, Health and Aviation Dean Stephan Wilson have been looking into the merger.

Students have seemingly been kept out of the loop on what is happening, said one Education, Health and Aviation student.

“I know we don’t know a lot,” Nick Linn said. “They are still kind of coming up with a name for it, and in meetings, they are calling it “Fred” just to give it a name.”

Access to and a copy of plans, correspondence memos, emails, etc., among the College of Health, Education and Aviation and the College of Human Sciences faculty and administrators regarding the merger of the two colleges were requested from OSU on April 9 to answer questions. These records were received on June 13.

Nutritional science junior Mary Alice Grubbs said she is “concerned about the adjustment period.”

Grubbs is also worried the “councilors who are supposed to be there and the advisers who are supposed to tell you ‘these are the classes that are needed for graduation’” might be confused about what classes are necessary to graduate.

“If that all changes, then people are going to have to end up paying more money and spend more time [in school],” Grubbs said.

For now, no curriculum changes will be made to either college during the merger, Sandefur said.

Human Sciences Dean and Interim Dean of Education, Health and Aviation Stephan Wilson said in an email update written on his behalf to the Human Sciences Partners Group on Feb. 7 that no curriculum changes should be seen, and everyone should graduate on time.

"You will begin to see us take steps toward integrating the dean’s offices administrative services," Wilson said. "We will also intentionally explore opportunities for academic collaborations, however you will not see changes to academic programs this semester and no programs are being eliminated. It is also important to note that all students (including graduating seniors) are not affected in any way and will still graduate from their respective college/ academic programs." 

Even though much remains unknown about the merger, some students are excited for it.

“I think it is great,” Linn said. “There’s a lot of similarities that both colleges have as far as what classes they teach and what their majors are. I didn’t really know why they weren’t necessarily the same college.”

But, some students are unhappy about the merger. One aviation administration and operations senior already thinks aviation does not belong with education and health.

“I thought [the merger] was pretty stupid,” Anthony Maxson said. “Human Sciences and EHA are the two smallest colleges, but their missions and just general cultures just seem so very different that merging it, honestly, seems pointless I would think.”

Although currently a lot of uncertainty surrounds the merger, Sandefur said the whole experience has been “gratifying.”

“I’m just really excited about [the merger], and I’ve been really gratified with the willingness of the faculty and staff in the two colleges to kind of come together and think about it and seriously look at it.”

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