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Robert Morris University

RMU’s Academic Reorganization Stresses Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Robert Morris University is reorganizing its academic programs in order to foster more interdisciplinary collaboration and demonstrate best practices in higher education.

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Robert Morris University is reorganizing its academic programs in order to foster more interdisciplinary collaboration and demonstrate best practices in higher education.

RMU currently offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and none of them are being eliminated under this reorganization plan. The plan will result in the university having four schools: The School of Business; The School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science; The School of Informatics, Humanities and Social Sciences; and The School of Nursing, Education and Human Studies. The plan is effective as of June 1, 2019.

The new academic configuration is consistent with the university’s RMU 100 strategic plan and reflects the real-world intersection of disciplines that once were regarded as distinct. The university’s strategic plan aims to help the Pittsburgh region address critical shortages in the professional workforce identified in the seminal 2016 Inflection Point report by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. 

"Historically, colleges and universities have often formed schools and academic departments in a rather ad-hoc fashion. But we must be strategic and focused, and our new academic structure represents the best way to serve our students and respond to the demands of the higher education market," said RMU President Chris Howard.  

Highlights of the plan include:

  • All programs that require professional licensure will be housed in the School of Nursing, Education and Human Studies, which is in line with best practices. Among that school’s degree programs will be all health care, teaching certification, and psychology programs, including counseling licensure.
  • Information systems, humanities, social sciences, and media and communication degrees will live in the School of Informatics, Humanities and Social Sciences. This school will reflect the number of ways in which professionals in all these fields collaborate with one another and the increasing number of careers that will require graduates to draw on skills in all those subjects. The first new degree program representing a collaboration between disciplines in the new schools will be a master’s degree in cyber investigations and intelligence, which will be offered starting in the fall of 2019.
  • The Health Service Administration programs will move to the School of Business over a two-year period in response to the exponential growth of the health care industry in the Pittsburgh region and increasing demand for administrative services in health care systems. 

An emphasis on career outcomes has long been a hallmark of RMU’s degree programs, and this is reflected in the university’s academic reorganization. Ninety-five percent of RMU students are employed or enrolled in graduate school within one year of commencement, and Gallup surveys show that RMU alumni are more likely to be engaged in their work, to be employed in their field of choice, and to hold management positions than graduates of comparable universities nationwide.

"RMU has always adapted its curriculum to keep pace with the changing needs of the professional workforce. Today that means providing students with an environment in which they can learn and collaborate with peers in different disciplines, much as they will throughout their careers," said Mary Ann Rafoth, interim provost and professor of education at RMU. 

RMU’s academic reorganization is one part of a larger university-wide restructuring intended to reduce administrative costs and keep RMU affordable to students and their families. A staff reorganization plan will have been completed by the end the current fiscal year, with cost savings achieved largely through attrition and voluntary separation agreements.