Leading a University College or Division of Undergraduate Studies: What’s in a Name?

Credit: iStock.com/Susan Vineyard
Many universities, especially larger public ones, have organized their academic structures so that there is a dedicated division that focuses on aspects of undergraduate academic success that span disciplines and majors. These units may contain such programs as first-year academic advising and first-year seminars, tutoring and academic coaching, undergraduate research and honors programs, niche academic majors (such as interdisciplinary studies), career services, and, perhaps, new student orientation. These units are variously named: University College, School of Undergraduate Education, Division of Student Success, Student Success Center, Undergraduate Studies. And the individuals who lead them also have a range of titles: associate provost for undergraduate education, undergraduate vice provost, vice provost for academic innovation and student achievement, dean of undergraduate education, dean of undergraduate studies and University College, associate provost for undergraduate studies, and dean of University College. These units are also notable by the fluidity of their structures. During difficult budgetary times, they may be vulnerable to being cut; when campuses are anxious about retention rates and enrollment levels, these units may see additional responsibilities added to their portfolios.

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