Last fall, I outlined some of the key goals for the ongoing Organizational Redesign of the college. At the time, the project was in its early stages, but now we’re starting to make things happen.
As a reminder, our primary objective for this critical undertaking is to reconfigure CALS in a way that ensures a bright future for our college, the students we teach, and the people we serve through our research and outreach. A major part of the redesign includes modernizing some of our academic programs to better suit today’s students and today’s economy. We want to make our majors more broadly integrative in terms of academic fields and more closely tied to the grand, global challenges that our students want to face head-on. By doing so, we can more effectively prepare our students for postgraduation opportunities and grow our enrollment strategically.
We’ve taken some big steps in this direction. Our poultry major, for example, which had been experiencing very low enrollment (no students were enrolled in the most recent year), has officially closed. However, the option will remain — through summer courses and a partnership with the Midwest Poultry Consortium — for students to pursue a poultry emphasis in conjunction with a different major. Efforts like this allow us to focus on new, in-demand fields, such as global health.
In fact, eight of our departments, along with the UW Global Health Institute, are developing a new global health major to be housed in CALS. The existing global health certificate, which is administered by CALS, debuted in 2011. About 500 students are currently enrolled, which comes as no surprise given how fast jobs related to public health are projected to grow in the coming years.
A global health major will allow our students to dig deeper into the many ways that environmental disruption and social disparities affect human well-being. Students will also gain the necessary quantitative skills and social sciences training to become the future solvers of these problems.
Our college is also undergoing changes beyond academic offerings. The dairy and animal sciences faculty voted in January to develop a proposal for a departmental merger. This move makes good sense for a variety of reasons.
First, the two departments share the goal of advancing livestock-related sciences. They are committed to discovering new ways to improve production and enhance animal (and human) health and well-being. Given their joint mission, the two departments already share some staff and co-teach numerous courses, but a merger would pave the way for more intentional collaboration and planning.
As a single entity, the merged departments could pool resources in developing a critical mass of faculty and staff in key disciplines — genetics, nutrition, meats, physiology — and new fields, such as data science and animal welfare. This helps ensure students and other stakeholders have access to the expertise they need and expect.
Rest assured, whatever changes this merger brings, CALS will maintain its strength in dairy research while supporting excellence in emerging areas, such as biomedical applications from animal byproducts.
I will keep you apprised here of new developments in our Organizational Redesign. We’re confident that, with the changes to come, our students and stakeholders will be much better served and primed for success.