Senate encourages administration to win more faculty support for STEM college merger

Though the administration supports merging the colleges of Technology and Engineering and Sciences, they hope to get faculty support.

“The provost and the vice chancellor tried to do a good job about surveying the faculty about the two colleges,” said Diane Spoljoric, who heads the Faculty Senate’s Educational Policy committee. “Unfortunately, the faculty seem very divided about what they want and what they’re okay with.”

Dietmar Rempfer, interim dean of the College of Engineering, supports the merger but said he understands why staff are hesitant.

“In the College of Technology, about two-thirds are in favor of the merger,” he said. “In the College of Engineering and Sciences, faculty were slightly above 50% opposed. …Part of that resistance was due to lack of information.” 

The Faculty Senate is currently weighing the merger proposal. Provost Kenneth Holford anticipates receiving the Senate’s recommendation in the next few months. 

“The goal of the [merger] proposal was to reduce the size and cost of the senior academic administration, while at the same time bring the STEM disciplines more closely aligned to increase the efficiency and collaborative opportunities …for students and faculty,” said Holford. “While we anticipate a number of benefits for the student body, there are no proposed changes to the structure of the departments and/or academic programs.” 

So far, the Faculty Senate has only recommended that Holford work to get the buy-in of both colleges’ faculty. 

“We want to be the faculty that works with administration to meet the needs of the university overall,” she said. 

Rempfer does think the merger will benefit students. 

“In the end, what this would do is [give] students more options,” he said. “Engineering students can take advantage of unused times in tech labs and vice versa, better utilization of equipment. Overall, this is going to be a bonus for students… we’re always trying to improve things for students.”