In their June 23, 2022 regular session, the University of Colorado Board of Regents approved three new departments within UCCS’ School of Public Affairs.
The Criminal Justice, Public Administration and Social Work programs will all become academic departments. The change will take place gradually over an 18-month period, with full implementation by fall 2023.
“It’s a traditional way of organizing an academic unit,” said George Reed, Dean of the School of Public Affairs. “The Regents’ action reflects the growth that’s been experienced and the scale of how the School of Public Affairs has grown. It’s also a vote of confidence – they are, after all, three different disciplines, and it just makes for a logical organization of the school. The Regents saw that right away, and they were very supportive.”
The School of Public Affairs, which was one of the few academic units that grew during the pandemic, has seen a 221% enrollment increase since 2011.
This change is part of a much longer history, Reed explained. The School of Public Affairs started with one program, the Masters of Public Administration, that was actually a satellite of University of Colorado Denver’s program. About 10 years ago, the bachelor’s and master’s of criminal justice programs were added, and two years ago the social work bachelor’s and master’s programs came to the school.
The MPA program has grown and is considered large by most standards, Reed said, and the criminal justice program has been one of the fastest-growing degree programs on our campus and is now the third-largest undergraduate program at UCCS.
“We just reached a point in our development where it was appropriate to look at what the best form of organization was for an academic unit of our size and scope and that was the three-department structure,” Reed said. “It’s been an evolution over time and it’s something that just made sense, and the timing was right to put it before the Regents.”
Students won’t see much of a change, but it will mean changes within the school, Reed said, with the addition of department chairs and other supervisory changes vital to good administration.
“We want to make it a gradual and comfortable transition,” Reed said. “We don’t want any organizational shock to take place, because there are a lot of back-office things that need to be done. This is mostly about recognizing the unique culture of each of the three disciplines, as well as more efficient administration.”
As it looks into future growth opportunities, the School of Public Affairs is aiming to add a Doctor of Social Work program over the next year or so, and will continue to consider certificates and other nondegree options for areas of possible expansion, as well as continue to offer multiple modalities for learning.
Every class that’s offered in the School of Public Affairs as an in-residence option is also offered online, Reed explained. “We’ve done that for a long time, that’s nothing new. But as the university expands its infrastructure around online education, we’ll be looking forward to maximizing our opportunities in that area as well.”
Ultimately, the three-department structure marks another milestone in the history of the school.
“It is hoped that this will increase the visibility and awareness of our programs within the School of Public Affairs,” said Reed. “It could result in additional enrollment. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our stakeholders around the new structure, so we think this will be good for us and we think it is certainly appropriate as part of our efforts to be good stewards of our limited resources and organize in the best, most efficient way possible.”