CANYON — Continued enrollment growth in the agriculture and engineering programs at West Texas A&M University has prompted the restructuring of a college, the renaming of a school and the creation of new departments.
With the restructure, mathematics will join engineering and computer science to become the School of Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics, and physics and chemistry will become its own department and join the Department of Agricultural Sciences and the Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences in the newly renamed College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.
Timing also played a role in the restructuring. The departure of a dean in January gave University officials an opportunity to evaluate the structure of the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering. Plus, funding from the legislature for a new agriculture sciences complex and future plans for the addition of an electrical engineering program and graduate engineering program all contributed to the decision for the restructure.
“The restructure was brought on by the growth of several programs in the college, most notably agricultural sciences and engineering,” Dr. Wade Shaffer, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said. “As programs grew it became apparent that the former structure of the college was not ideal and that reorganizing units could provide more focused services for students and a stronger identity for each of the college’s academic programs.”
Enrollment numbers from fall 2010 through fall 2014 reveal the growth within the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering. In the fall of 2010, overall enrollment in the college was 1,559 compared to 2,095 in the fall of 2014. In a breakdown of departments, enrollment in the Department of Agricultural Sciences for fall 2010 stood at 563 students compared to 640 in fall 2014. In engineering, 381 students were enrolled in the fall of 2010, compared to 623 in the fall of 2014. Enrollment numbers for the fall of 2015 are expected to surpass last year’s record-breaking fall numbers.
“Engineering, computer science and mathematics form a powerful problem-solving team for the Texas Panhandle and beyond,” Dr. Emily Hunt, who will serve as acting dean of the School of Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics, said. “We are excited about the formation of our new school, and our faculty look forward to many collaborative opportunities in the future. Specifically, as the energy industries in our area continue to grow, we will provide rigorous academic training for students ready to enter these technical fields. Our graduates will benefit from the cohesive alignment of their engineering, computer science and mathematics curriculum as well as multidisciplinary projects and job possibilities.”
In addition to the restructure of the College, the Texas Legislature recently passed bills that will allow the University to issue more than $38 million worth of tuition revenue bonds for the construction of a new Agricultural Sciences Complex. The facility will benefit teaching and research in expanded space covering more than 140,000 square feet.
“The realignment of the college and construction of the new Ag Sciences Complex will allow agricultural sciences to better serve our students and the industries that feed the world,” Dr. Dean Hawkins, who will serve as acting dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, said. “This will help propel agricultural science forward to a new level of excellence.”
The changes will be effective with the fall 2015 semester, and degree plans will be organized under the new administrative structure.