Provost announces academic changes

Written By Caitlyn Scott, Co-News Editor

In an email sent on behalf of the President’s Office on Sept. 12, 2022, the university announced two new changes to the university’s academic structure, effective as of this semester. 

Firstly, the Community Engagement program, which houses the PhD program in Community Engagement, minors in Community Engagement, Women & Gender Studies, and the First Year Experience [Univ 101 program], will now become part of the Rowland School of Business as the Department of Community Engagement and Leadership.

Chair of the Department of Community Engagement and Leadership Dr. Heather Starr Fiedler told The Globe that with the department being under the Rowland School of Business, this will create opportunities that will create greater impacts on the community and get students involved in community service. 

“The Rowland School of Business was a good fit for the department because of their commitment to working with partners outside the University, their engaged faculty, and the support of Dean Tanzilli. The structure and support of the Rowland School of Business will provide increased resources and collaboration opportunities that will lead to additional partnerships with community organizations and enable us to grow our impact here on campus and within the greater community,” Fiedler said. 

Fiedler is hopeful that these changes will lead to more opportunities for students.

“As we grow the Department, we hope to offer more classes and programs, Additionally, we plan to offer more opportunities for students of all majors to get involved in community service, volunteerism and advocacy work. All of our outreach opportunities are open to students of any major.”

Along with this, the university also announced the merger between the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and Literary Arts and Social Justice into a single Department of Literature, Culture, & Society. 

“I’m trained as a cultural and more recently a social historian, so when I arrived at Point Park last summer, I found it odd that we had cultural studies and social studies divided into two distinct departments,” Michael Soto, university provost and senior vice president of academic affairs said. “Since then, I’ve found that the artificial division created problems with course scheduling and curricular flexibility; I’ve also found that the division impeded obvious opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.”

According to Point Park’s official webpage, the new Department of Literature, Culture and Society is recognized with “a diverse range of studies” such as Criminal Justice and Intelligence Studies, Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technology and Psychology. 

Although this change is effective as of this year, Soto says that there will not be drastic changes now to students’ coursework or study, confident that this will produce better opportunities for both students and faculty.  

“As of now, the program curricula are unchanged–but the curriculum is always evolving, so change is inevitable,” Soto said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll soon see more student-friendly course scheduling, better opportunities to interact with faculty, and before long revitalized curricula within cultural and social studies.”

Junior creative writing major Sarah Bagay said they feel that the new Department of Literature, Culture, and Society will help not only benefit their major, but also help many students whose majors fall under the department. 

“I guess I feel neutral about this,” Bagay said. “I think the departments [will] work well together for my major…since I’ve taken [humanities] courses, it’s really helped me grow into my work.”

The new changes presented by the university take effect this semester.