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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA: Merger won’t impact students

    The recent creation of the massive Colleges of Letters and Science is probably the most drastic change in the model of academia at the UA. However, UA officials say that professors and students alike “”won’t even notice a change.””

    Vice Provost Gail Burd said the new college is not three colleges all thrown into one, but rather separate colleges united by a centralized leadership.

    “”You keep these three colleges – the College of Humanities, College of Science, and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences – and then there is an executive dean,”” Burd said. “”And that is the Colleges of Letters and Science.””

    The money saving, Burd said, comes from moving functions that used to take place in the individual colleges to the upper college to be commanded by the executive dean, Joaquin Ruiz.

    “”Functions like advising will have a main advising office for all of the colleges,”” Burd said. “”And the main advising coordinator will sit in the upper college.””

    Business managers, who act like a “”super accountant”” will possibly move into the upper college as well, she said.

    “”Business managers take care of all the financing within a department and within a college. So it would be possible move some of those functions into the upper college and then have some accountants stay in the individual college,”” Burd said.

    Joaquin Ruiz, once the Dean of the College of Science, will serve as Executive Dean of the Colleges of Letters and Sciences.

    Ruiz said the structure of each college will remain the same, but his job description will change a bit.

    “”What the executive dean will be doing is managing the efficiencies of the whole umbrella,”” Ruiz said. “”Human resources, how we push paper around, how we do promotions and tenures – each college has a very different way of doing that right now, and the cost structure of each college is very different.””

    Ruiz said the day-to-day operations of a college will remain with the dean of that college.

    “”The model is not new, it is the same model that is used in the University of California system,”” Ruiz said. “”We are not reinventing the wheel, we are just reinventing it for the U of A.””

    Officials have said that $1.5 million to $2 million will be saved almost immediately after the merger of the colleges; however, Burd said that figure is just an estimate.

    Administrators are still unsure of whether jobs will be cut and how much will be saved at this point.

    “”One point five million in savings is still an estimation,”” Burd said. “”This is a very fluid process and it’s very early in the process. They are collecting data right now, so there is nothing definitive that we can say will be cut.””

    As for jobs being cut and people being let go, she said the Administration is doing all that they can to keep the jobs in place – but there is a possibility that cuts will be made.

    “”I do not think that anything will change. The intent is that professors and advisers will not be let go; however, it really depends on what legislature does to us,”” Burd said. “”If they give us some of the biggest cuts that can happen … . I just don’t know what is going to happen.””

    Jenny Holman, an interdisciplinary science senior, expressed her regret of hearing the possibility of job cuts, especially in advising services.

    “”It’s already hard enough to get advising hours right now. So finding the classes I want and the resources I need is going to be extremely difficult,”” Holman said. “”People are trying to graduate on time, and a lack of academic advisers is not going to help them in doing so.””

    Ruiz said he has four important goals that need be realized to ensure the quality of education in the Colleges of Letters and Science.

    “”First, we have to find greater efficiencies in the way we do business,”” he said. “”Second, I think we can find better ways that we can do advising throughout the entire college structure.””

    Ruiz said that currently there are advisers in each of these colleges, plus advisers in University College, and he would like to improve upon the structure.

    “”The third thing is I would like to reevaluate general education,”” Ruiz said. “”General education, for the most part, is taught by these three colleges. The next question is ‘Are we doing the best for our students?’ And if not we need to reevaluate.””

    Fourthly, Ruiz said he would like to engage himself in the creation of schools across these colleges.

    “”An example of that: There is a proposal for the creation of a school that is called Mind, Brain, and Behavior,”” Ruiz said. “”Mind, Brain, and Behavior would have biology to psychology, all the way to philosophy. I want to create programs across all of the colleges that highlight a particular discipline and those schools will be reporting directly to the executive dean.””

    As for retaining the individuality of each college, Ruiz said he is all for it.

    “”I think there are cultures and traditions in each one of these colleges that should be preserved, and that is why we are not making an enormous college of arts and sciences where all of that would disappear.””

    Burd said it is possible for this merger to create more revenue over time.

    “”Some mergers in the past have been designed to get grants,”” Burd said. “”Now faculty are working together that might not have been working as readily before, and they can think about ways to get grants, get teaching grants and to teach more efficiently. So there will be savings even without cutting people.””

    Burd said all the savings will not be seen by students directly.

    “”The savings go back to the state. There is a huge budget cut that is hitting us this year, and then another budget cut in July,”” Burd said. “”The savings from the merger will be given back to Central Administration for the budget cut.””

    However, Burd said students and professors will not even notice a change at their level.

    “”They have a major, they have the faculty in that major that they go see, the same advising structure – none of this is going to change,”” Burd said. “”But the point is there needs to be savings.””

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