Several faculty members voiced their concerns regarding the formation of the College of Arts, Culture and Scientific Inquiry during the virtual Faculty Senate meeting on Sept. 11.
Interim Provost, Dr. David Jenks explained that the debate on the reorganization of the former College of Arts and Humanities, former College of Social Sciences and former College of Science and Mathematics originated last April with all of the administrators.
The largest concern wasn’t the restructuring of the colleges themselves but how the restructuring was handled. Faculty senators pointed out the lack of faculty consultation in the decision-making process and expressed their disappointment in leadership for not giving them a voice when combining the departments within the new college.
“I think maybe what many of us are looking for is an acknowledgment on the part of the administration that, indeed, shared governance was not honored and was not sought in some of these big moves,” said Faculty Senator Dr. Ben Geyer, Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Director of Jazz Studies. “And, I think that might be an important first step of reconciliation.”
As part of the Executive Committee, UWG President Brendan B. Kelly briefly addressed the faculty’s feeling of exclusion in the meeting, while Jenks provided the rationale behind the restructuring.
“We intentionally didn’t do anything with faculty for those first four months,” said Jenks. “Instead, we set up a framework so that when the faculty returned, we could engage a larger group of people, a larger committee to have further discussions.”
Resulting from these further discussions was a report in which half of the administrators leaned toward the large combined college, while the other half wanted to stay with three separate colleges. However, there was one comment that helped sway the choice of the Executive Committee.
“Within that report there was one relatively powerful statement that said, ‘What we truly need is a structure that will emphasize interdisciplinarity and build up structures in which innovative programming can build,'” said Jenks.
Jenks informed faculty that the decision made over the summer was in part due to the need for a budget cut caused by the pandemic. Every university in the University System of Georgia had to undergo the same process.
“The budget reduction strategy that we used with the reorganization focused on administration largely,” said Jenks. “And [it] tried to remove those administrative units that didn’t affect instruction per se, not directly, but still maintained all of our academic programs and all of our academic faculty.”
Before the meeting, the Executive Committee was able to review the concerns about the new strategic plan and the concerns about the permanent appointment of staff in leadership positions within the new school. However, the Executive Committee did not feel like they could properly respond to the concerns within the faculty meeting itself. Instead, the committee plans to better respond in writing. The written account will be documented and available to the faculty senators and everyone else at UWG.
“We want to make sure that the questions are answered completely thoroughly—taking the time to do that in a meaningful way—rather than trying to provide a response to a series of questions we’ve had for 48 hours in a Faculty Senate meeting,” said Dr. Jenks.