All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Linda Searby

Advisory Committee Members

Julia Austin

Akhlaque Haque

Marcia O'Neal

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

Even in normal times, limited resources require U.S. universities to be more open to change. In late 2007, however, a global recession, the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, intensified constraints on higher education. To achieve intended outcomes, leaders at colleges and universities often reorganize or realign their organizations during challenging times. Indeed, one public doctorate-granting research university with very high research activity in the southeastern United States has responded to the economic crisis by realigning four academic schools into one large college. Scholarly inquiry was needed to understand the impact of this realignment. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the results of the realignment of an academic unit at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), during a period of economic hardship, by examining changes over time that followed the realignment and can be tied to the stated purposes of the realignment. Administrators at the UAB noted three main justifications for realignment: to improve interdisciplinarity, enhance student services/strategic investments, and create financial efficiencies. The newly formed academic unit (the College of Arts and Sciences or CAS) was created in 2010. Few studies were identified that measured the impact of change caused by realignments. Little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of steps that universities are taking, such as academic realignment, to weather financial crises. This study was needed because, without evidenced-based methods of inquiry and self-assessment, institutional leaders and stakeholders may find it difficult to track the progress of realignments, refine implementations, and evaluate successes. Additionally, this study was needed at the UAB in order to give an initial picture of the results of the realignment that formed the CAS because no plans were shared for evaluation prior to the implementation of the organizational change. Archival data that were regularly collected each semester for institutional research purposes at the UAB were analyzed. Descriptive statistics and chi-square tests of proportions were used to answer the research questions. The findings suggested that at the time of this study the intended outcomes were not achieved as a result of the academic realignment.

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