Letter from UB Provost Tripathi to School of Informatics Community

One more bit from the ongoing saga over at SUNY Buffalo. This one, from Satish K. Tripathi, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Dear School of Informatics Community,

The purpose of my letter is to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the recent decision to realign the School of Informatics’ constituent departments – the Department of Communication and the Department of Library and Information Studies – and the reasons for this decision. Before I begin, I would like to reassure our faculty, students, staff, and alumni that undergraduate and graduate courses and academic degree programs, including the programs in Informatics, that have been offered in the School will continue to be offered in their new administrative homes.As you can appreciate, universities are not stagnant or fixed. This reality is resultant of the dynamic constituency – students, faculty, alumni, and staff – who comprise our universities. Our students, faculty, alumni, and staff are continually shaping the contemporary realities in which we live, learn, and work and will undoubtedly shape those realities of tomorrow.

As part of this natural evolution, universities initiate change for countless administrative and academic reasons. And, throughout UB’s history such has occurred -- as I suspect our faculty and alumni can attest. The administrative change we are witnessing today in the School of Informatics has been designed with one objective in mind: To ensure our academic departments and educational programs are supported - through maximizing the use of our resources in direct support of our academic mission - so our students, faculty, and academic degree programs can flourish. To this, we are committed.

It is also important to contextualize the decision to realign the academic departments (Communication and Library and Information Studies) in the School of Informatics from a broader institutional perspective. Every academic discipline – from biostatistics to philosophy – does not reside within its own unique school or college. Disciplines and academic degree programs flourish because of the faculty’s commitment to expanding knowledge and educating the next generation of intellectual innovation and leadership. It is the faculty, students, staff, and alumni that make a particular degree program a successful enterprise dedicated to academic excellence, rather than a particular administrative arrangement or decanal reporting relationship.

In today’s dynamic and increasingly complex world, faculty are actively seeking to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries – counter to the traditional “siloed†paradigm – so they may contribute to solving -- through a multidisciplinary lens and approach -- some of the most challenging problems that face humanity. Indeed, this type of interdisciplinary collaboration is exactly what our UB faculty have chosen to pursue as evidenced by their active engagement in the multidisciplinary UB2020 Strategic Strengths Initiative.

With this realignment, faculty and students from Communication and Library and Information Studies will have more opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations among their departmental colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Education. Through providing a more robust context to collaborate across academic departments, students and faculty will have very real opportunities to develop intellectual synergies – evidenced through their teaching, research, or academic programming – with their colleagues in the Graduate School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences, respectively.

This summer and throughout the fall semester, Interim Dean Lucinda Finley will be working with the Faculty Senate, the chairpersons in the departments of Communication and Library and Information Studies, the director of the Informatics Program, and the faculty as we proceed towards the implementation of this administrative realignment.

At the start of the Fall semester, Professor Finley plans to constitute a Department of Communication/College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Committee and a Department of Library and Information Studies/Graduate School of Education Faculty Committee so to facilitate a smooth transition and to ensure faculty needs and ideas regarding their research and teaching are heard and addressed. In the next week or so, Professor Finley will convene a meeting with the School of Informatics staff members to discuss transitional issues from both global and individual perspectives.

We are currently in the process of scheduling a meeting with student representatives from the departments of Communication and Library and Information Studies and the Informatics Program. Professor Finley and I look forward to the opportunity to meet with our students and to discuss further the decision to realign the departments and the process of implementation, as well as to address questions and issues specific to our students.

Professor Finley has already had the opportunity to meet with the two department chairs and the director of the Informatics Program to begin to discuss transitional issues, and perhaps more importantly, to ensure our continued investment in the departments of Communication and Library and Information Studies so our academic degree programs continue to strengthen. I am pleased to note that these conversations have been exceedingly congenial and productive, especially regarding the opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration with faculty in the Graduate School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences that are presented by the administrative realignment.

President Simpson has expressed in many forums our vision to be one of the nation’s premier public research universities in the nation. With this bold institutional vision in mind, allow me once again to reemphasize: Undergraduate and graduate courses and academic degree programs, including the programs in Informatics, that are administered in the departments of Communication and Library and Information Studies will continue to be offered in their new administrative homes – the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Education. I have every expectation that these degree programs will progress and flourish moving into the ranks of nationally recognized degree programs. It is thus your degree from the University at Buffalo will be increasingly valued in the public domain because of the commitment from all corridors of our campus to academic excellence.

I hope this letter has provided you with further clarity regarding the realignment of academic departments in the School of Informatics. I hope you have a wonderfully enjoyable summer.

Sincerely,

Satish K. Tripathi

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

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