Southern University Considers Merging Colleges - Higher Education

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Southern University Considers Merging Colleges

by The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. — Southern University is proposing merging eight academic colleges and schools into five as the university begins a re-organization process.

The proposed plan would consolidate engineering with architecture, agriculture with the natural sciences and business with public policy, among other changes. It also would set the table for upcoming faculty and academic program cutbacks.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/tkT1G2) the plan was distributed to faculty on Thursday with a request that input be received by noon Friday. Faculty members complained they were only given a day and a half to study it and asked for an extension until Wednesday.

It was not immediately known whether the extension was granted.

The Faculty Senate also discussed a potential vote of “no confidence” in Chancellor James Llorens and whether to start a legal defense fund to fight a recent declaration of a financial emergency, called exigency.

Southern University is proposing merging eight academic colleges and schools into five as the university begins a reorganization process.

Exigency, generally considered a serious blemish to a university, gives the Southern administration more leeway in laying off faculty and axing academic programs.

No faculty votes were taken on a “no confidence” consideration or a lawsuit. Several faculty members said it was too soon to have a vote against Llorens.

As for the re-organization, the merged academic colleges would be:

  • College of Education and Liberal Arts.
  • College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.
  • College of Business and Public Policy.
  • College of Agricultural and Natural Sciences.
  • College of Nursing and Allied Health.

 

The potential changes would consolidate many parts of the current and separate College of Education, College of Arts and Humanities, College of Engineering, School of Architecture, College of Business, Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, School of Nursing, College of Sciences and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.

The mergers would reduce the number of academic deans on campus.

The proposed plan would change the Graduate School into the Institutional Research and Graduate School. The Southern Honors College was listed as an “Honors” offshoot of the office of academic affairs in the plan.

Llorens and interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Janet Rami did not respond to interview requests on. University spokesman Ed Pratt said the chancellor does not want to publicly discuss the plan until it is further along.

The next step would be to identify which academic programs and tenured faculty within the colleges are slated for termination. The Southern Board of Supervisors could consider the proposed changes as soon as Nov. 25, but it could be delayed until December.

Faculty Senate President Sudhir Trivedi said he suspects the final approval will wait until next month. Trivedi said he expects roughly 50 of the university’s 270 or so faculty members could be targeted for firing. He said he thinks the college consolidation plan is “shortsighted,” especially when it is being done with little faculty input.

The Faculty Senate did approve a request to form a committee with a majority of faculty members that would have final review of the academic re-organization. Trivedi said that if the administration ignores the faculty requests it could be a violation of the university’s academic accreditation.

“We cannot accept this as is without more time for a thorough review,” said mechanical engineering professor Patrick Mensah, who argued architecture would fit better with public policy than engineering.

“I think it’s by design,” added criminal justice professor Shanika Jones, contending that the administration does not want much faculty input.

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