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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Eller school lands back on block

    Eller College’s School of Public Administration and Policy went from business as usual to despair and anxiety, followed by a glimmer of hope in a span of two months.

    That glimmer of hope came in the form of a White Paper proposal submitted by the school and the political science department, recommending that instead of the elimination originally suggested at Eller, SPAP should merge with the department.

    This week, the sudden rejection of the proposal sent the school back into the realm of uncertainty, where SPAP will be handed a fate ranging from simple cost-cutting to possible elimination of the entire school.

    “”We don’t know what’s going to happen next,”” said Roger Hartley, interim director of SPAP. “”We could end up at Eller (College of Management). We could end up in Eller in a different form. Some of us are concerned that we could end up cut.””

    The debacle of insecurity began in the days leading up to the White Paper submission deadline when Eller Dean Paul Portney suggested, among other things, that the college could effectively cut costs by integrating the SPAP curriculum into other sections of Eller and UA South, calling the SPAP “”a poor fit”” for the college.

    Hartley’s public protestation against the idea was not enough to save SPAP from suggested major alterations in Eller’s official White Paper proposal.

    Members of SPAP were eager to accept a new, separate proposal that suggested the SPAP and political science departmentmerge to create a new School of Government and Public Affairs.

    The future looked bright for SPAP, especially after the Transformation Subcommittee ordered a full proposal of the potential new school’s plan.

    “”The proposal has … positive potential,”” the committee said.

    The committee was not alone in seeing promise in the proposal. Provost Meredith Hay and President Robert Shelton left the following message in the “”Response”” portion of the White Papers online:

    “”As indicated in the recommendation from SPBAC, there are several issues to consider in this reorganization. Before either proposal is asked to proceed, the President and Provost requested that discussions take place between Eller, SBS and UA South. I can facilitate those conversations in the next week or so, depending on your schedules. I will ask my associate to schedule a meeting.””

    That meeting never happened, though, and Hartley was left surprised by the subcommittee meeting on Dec. 3.

    “”We had hoped or thought that we were going to be able to sit down and meet with all parties at the table and discuss how our White Paper would go forward,”” Hartley said. “”Then I learned from the provost that our particular proposal was not moving forward and that she had asked Dean Portney to decide how Public Administration could be offered in a, I guess the words were, ‘a more cost-effective manner.'””

    SPAP and Hartley were not the only ones left disappointed with the provost’s decision. The political science department had been looking forward to the possible change and its benefits for students, said William J. Dixon, head of the political science department.

    “”It would have been a benefit to undergraduate students, because there would’ve been more courses available to them through our effort than are available now,”” Dixon said. “”We thought we could deliver a policy-oriented curriculum pretty efficiently using resources from both political science and the School of Public Administration.””

    Although he may feel dissatisfied with Hay’s decision, Dixon said administrators must not have felt that the proposal could work cohesively within the university system.

    “”I’m definitely disappointed. Everybody’s got to tighten belts. We thought this was a good proposal,”” he said. “”The administration has a broader view of what is good for the university, and they felt this wasn’t a direction we should be going in right now.””

    The proposal rejection should not hurt political science as the department will continue on with its current curriculum and outlook, Dixon said.

    “”As far as I know, that’s all that is going to happen,”” he said. “”We’re the second largest major on campus, so we certainly have plenty to occupy us.””

    SPAP is not so lucky, and their school is now the one possibly on the chopping block.

    “”We haven’t yet received a real justification, nor has (the committee) from what I can tell, of why our proposal was not moved forward,”” Hartley said. “”We’re pretty concerned, and we’re definitely disappointed, because we thought it was a fantastic idea.””

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