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New details have been revealed about the merger of West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media and the College of Creative Arts.
The merger, announced earlier this month, was the topic of a presentation earlier this week by Vice Provost Paul Kreider during a WVU Campus Conversation.
We are committed to investing in initiatives that put our students first by aiding their recruitment, retention, persistence and graduation. This new college will serve as a hub of creative activity and experiential learning. It will be a cornerstone of West Virginia Universitys future, President Gordon Gee said when the merger was announced on June 14.
Aimed at creating dynamic academic programming, administrative efficiencies, and cost savings, the combining of the two schools is one of several measures the university is taking to address a $45 million budget deficit.
The decision to merge the two colleges was based on a thorough evaluation of their strengths, potential synergies, existing collaborations, and future opportunities, Kreider said, highlighting several key factors considered during the evaluation process.
The Reed College of Media, known for its robust online education operation, can uplift and enhance the College of Creative Arts’ newer online programs, Kreider said. By aligning with Reed College, the College of Creative Arts could gain valuable support and expertise in the online space, he said.
Another significant consideration was Reed College’s exceptional track record in student retention, Kreider said, which offers valuable insights that could benefit the College of Creative Arts. Furthermore, the Reed College’s efficiency and strong academic programs could lead to cost savings and increased efficiency by streamlining certain smaller programs within the College of Creative Arts, he said.
The merger presents an opportunity to further strengthen the colleges’ focus on experiential learning, community engagement, and creative scholarship, Kreider said. By leveraging the expertise of both colleges in video production, storytelling, advertising art, visual art, theater, dance, and music, the university aims to enhance students’ experiences and better prepare them for current job demands.
“The College of Creative Arts has not ever been a major player in the online space, Kreider said. But it could be in the future, and we need to explore that potential.
The collaboration also has the potential to amplify fundraising efforts, with the College of Creative Arts’ strong history and program in fundraising bolstering Reed College’s initiatives.
How can the knowledge and experience of the CCA help the Reed College more intentionally and effectively engage the public, whether that’s in person or virtually, Kreider said.
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Additionally, the merger might facilitate the establishment of a Ph.D. program within Reed College, paving the way for innovative graduate educational opportunities, Kreider said.
Curriculum collaborations between the two colleges, such as the interdisciplinary major in game and interactive media design, will continue to thrive and evolve with the merger, Kreider said.
Possibilities for new curricular programs, such as a filmmaking degree program, have also been discussed, Kreider said. The advancements in video production techniques and the growing popularity of documentary and reality filming make such a program more feasible and cost-effective.
This program would not be as nearly as expensive as it would have been a decade ago, Kreider said. It will be interesting to see how an applied program in filmmaking could build experiences for our students and to see exactly what the new potential might be.
Administratively, the merger is expected to yield operational efficiencies and reduced administrative overhead, similar to the cost savings achieved through the previous merger that created the College of Applied Human Sciences, Kreider said.
The exact amount of savings is yet to be determined, Kreider said, but it is anticipated to be significant and contribute to the university’s financial goals. These savings may be redirected towards supporting new programs and increasing enrollment, he said.
Clearly, there will be some operational efficiencies and reduced administrative overhead, Kreider said. We certainly hope that we will be able to redirect some of the savings into support of new programs that we know will bring new enrollment to WVU.
The plan is to launch the new college on July 1, 2024. Over the summer, the university will work with the leadership of both colleges to determine the organizational structure, Kreider said.
Input from faculty and staff will be sought in the fall, as committees are formed to cover various aspects, including faculty evaluation, advising and student services, fundraising, alumni relations, communications, enrollment recruiting, diversity, equity and inclusion, curriculum and research, and scholarship.
The merger process will involve behind-the-scenes tasks, such as updating coding for majors and programs, admissions processes, realigning foundation accounts, and developing new branding and websites, Kreider said. While this undertaking is substantial, the collaboration between faculty and staff from both colleges is expected to shape a new academic entity that capitalizes on the strengths of each institution, he said.