Chatham University to restructure its academics

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An academic restructuring at Chatham University that is planned to coincide with its switch to a fully coed institution in fall 2015 is under way.

The university announced Tuesday initial moves that include establishing two new schools: one in health sciences and the other in liberal arts and business, as well as the appointment of new deans.

In addition, Chatham said Jenna Templeton, assistant vice president of academic affairs, will become the university’s interim vice president of academic affairs, effective with the June departure of Wenying Xu, who is taking a similar post in Florida.

The moves come after Chatham trustees voted May 1 to begin admitting men into the undergraduate women’s college for the first time in its 145-year history, effective fall 2015. The board also approved plans for a campus-wide realignment of academic offerings, including what officials call “vertically integrated” offerings within its colleges and schools that will enable undergraduates upon admission to secure spots in graduate programs.

Pat Downey, who has taught at Chatham since 1994 and is director of its physical therapy program, will become the inaugural dean of the School of Health Sciences. She has been a practicing physical therapist for more than 30 years specializing in orthopedics and women’s health.

Chatham also announced that Darlene Motley, now the dean of Chatham College for Graduate Studies, will be the inaugural dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Business. In that role, she will lead most of the university’s undergraduate programs in addition to a number of graduate programs in the sciences and business.

In addition to the women’s college, Chatham already includes the Falk School of Sustainability.

“With the creation of these new schools and the appointment of these leadership positions, Chatham sets in motion the transformation that will create a stronger student experience, new faculty opportunities and closer collaboration between Chatham’s graduate and undergraduate programs,” university president Esther Barazzone said in a statement. “I look forward to working with these leaders and the entire Chatham community as we chart this exciting path forward.”

The university, whose main campus is in Shadyside, has nearly 2,200 students.

Its graduate programs have been coed for decades, but the women’s college has remained single sex. Officials this winter and spring said they hope the introduction of men — though opposed by many of the college’s alumnae — will help reverse undergraduate enrollment and financial losses.

Bill Schackner:, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.

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