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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Transformation impact begins

    The UA Transformation Plan saw its first merger this week in the consolidation of the Department of Chemistry with biochemistry and molecular biophysics.

    Although the UA Faculty Senate has been hesitant to fully back the university’s transformation process, the departments’ faculties overwhelmingly supported the merger, said Mark Smith, chemistry’s department head.

    “”The top schools in the nation are already merged,”” he said. “”This makes such a strong unit.””

    Part of the faculty’s support came from the understanding that faculty positions in the new department of chemistry and biochemistry will remain untouched, and they “”will continue business as usual,”” Smith said.

    While the new department will save approximately $200,000 in consolidation of upper administration and operations, staff and subgroups have yet to determine which administrative areas will be affected.

    The consolidation will allow for combined research without the current overlap, which will heavily boost the department’s national recognition, he added.

    The merger’s benefits will reach beyond recognition, though, as the new department will attract $16 million in annual federal research, said Johnny Cruz, media relations director for the university.

    Bigger will truly mean better for the department, as the chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biophysics faculty will pool resources and ideas to become a more efficient entity, Smith said.

    One such act of teamwork may include recruiting students “”in a combined way,”” he said.

    Smith acknowledged that several snags may occur as words and ideas take on tangible forms, but said he is confident that all will work out smoothly in the end.

    “”Hopefully in the near future, we can get through these things,”” he said.

    The new mega-department will be the UA’s third-largest teaching program, with about 650 undergraduate majors. It will trail only behind mathematics and English, Cruz said.

    The departments’ administrators will meet in the coming weeks to set the date for an official merger, he added.

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