Prior to 1967, when the school gained university status, there was no collegiate structure between the instructional departments and the school's upper administration. In the early days of the school, instructional department heads reported to the President. After President Latham took office in 1928, he instituted substantial administrative re-organization, appointed a Dean of the Faculty, and helped to develop faculty governance. But departments maintained a fairly independent status. Some departments, such as Education, English, Science, and Social Science, were very large. Other departments functioned with quite small faculties.
But university status brought with it the need for a collegiate administrative structure. Groups of departments with similar curricula needed to be organized into colleges governed by a College Dean . Some departments fell into place easily; other departments required a stretching of collegiate boundaries and definitions in order to find a home.
In 1968 the university organized four colleges: Business and Behavioral Sciences, Education, Humanities and Fine Arts, and Natural Science. The Graduate College was somewhat different from the undergraduate colleges in that it would be constituted of a graduate faculty rather than individual departments; the Graduate College was noted in the 1968-1969 UNI budget as having "No formal budget set up by May Board (of Regents) meeting; may establish later in the year by transfer from unallocated funds." The undergraduate colleges were set up with budget lines for Deans and office staffs. The College of Business and Behavioral Sciences included four departments, the Business and Business Education Department, the Home Economics Department, the Psychology Department, and the still undifferentiated Social Science Department. The College of Education included five instructional departments: the still undifferentiated Education and Educational Psychology Department, the Library Science Department, the Physical Education for Men Department, the Physical Education for Women Department, and the Teaching Department. The College of Humanities and Fine Arts included: Art, English Language and Literature, Foreign Languages, Music, and Speech. The College of Natural Sciences included: Biology, Chemistry, Industrial Arts and Technology, and Physics and Earth Science.
In 1969, the old all-encompassing Social Science Department in the College of Business and Behavioral Sciences was differentiated into five departments: Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, and Sociology and Anthropology. Also in that year, the Philosophy and Religion Department emerged from the English Language and Literature Department, and the Graduate College was formally organized and budgeted.
In 1970 the Physics and Earth Science Department split into the Physics Department and the Earth Science Department. In 1971 the Education and Educational Psychology Department split into three departments: Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Psychology and Foundations, and School Administration and Personnel Services. With that, the university had completed its initial round of department differentiation.
Over the years since then, several new departments have been established or phased out, and quite a few have split or changed names to reflect a shifted focus or more contemporary terminology. These instructional department name changes  are treated elsewhere. However, only one of the original colleges has changed its name and only one new college has been established since the initial collegiate organization in the late 1960s. These two significant changes are linked.
Enrollment and interest in the study of business surged in the late 1970s and 1980s. In 1969 the Business and Business Education Department had split into the Business Department and the Business Education and Office Administration Department. In 1981 the Business Department emerged from the College of Business and Behavioral Sciences as the School of Business, with collegiate status and its own array of differentiated business-related departments. The College of Business and Behavioral Sciences then became the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. And in the only instance of a department moving from one college to another, the Economics Department left the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences to join the School of Business in 1985.
In 1989, the School of Business became the College of Business Administration.
For a list of College Deans, click here .
- College of Business and Behavioral Sciences, 1968-1981; succeeded by College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1981-present
- College of Education, 1968-present
- College of Humanities and Fine Arts, 1968-present
- College of Natural Sciences, 1968-present
- Graduate College, 1969-present
- School of Business, 1981-1989; succeeded by College of Business Administration, 1989-present