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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

History and Social Sciences become separate departments

By Sangmin Lee

Next fall, the History and Social Sciences Department will be divided into two departments—the History and Political Science Department and the Psychology and Sociology Department. Dr. Graham Higgs, professor of education and psychology, has been named chair of the new Psychology and Sociology Department, according to Dr. Terry Smith, executive vice president and dean for Academic Affairs.

The current chair of the History and Social Sciences Department, Dr. Brad Lookingbill, professor of history, will continue to chair the History and Political Science Department.

According to Lookingbill, the decision to divide the History and Social Science Department was made because it has been growing for the last five years in terms of programs and the number of faculty. “We felt that we should be more attentive to students’ needs. We wanted to find a way to better organize ourselves to serve our students more effectively,” Lookingbill said.

As the History and Social Science departments are divided, the leaders expect some advantages. Lookingbill said, “I think the smaller departments are better at being efficient and effective.” The departments will be better able to address their majors in those two programs and advise students.

The division of the departments is also beneficial for students who are taking courses at Columbia College nationwide. There are 24,000 unique students taking classes off campus, and many of them take history and social science courses. Also, there are hundreds of faculty members who teach history and social science courses off campus. Lookingbill says he thinks the departments will do a much better job of coordinating with off-campus faculty and students and be better able to manage issues related to off-campus students.

In addition, the programs will be more visible so that students who are new to campus will have a better idea where they can find political science or sociology. Lookingbill said that previously some of the degree programs were not visible and students might have difficulty figuring out what social science is. The sociology, psychology and political science faculty now have more visibility with the new name.

Smith appointed Higgs after consultation with faculty and President Gerald Brouder. Smith said he considers certain qualities when he makes decision for appointing chairs. “The experience that they have been at Columbia College for a while, respect that they have by other faculty and their potential for leadership are considered,” Smith said.

Department chairs manage communication between faculty and the administration. In addition, managing the budget of their departments and hiring new faculty are their major jobs according to Lookingbill.

Photo: Dr. Graham Higgs has been named chair of the new department. Photo by Wayne Boykin II.

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