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Thursday, April 20, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 137

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Faculty will discuss merger

Task force to analyze melding of HFAC and Social Sciences

By Jim Parsons
Daily Cougar Staff

Faculty senators from the College of Social Sciences expressed some concern Wednesday over a proposed merger with the College of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communication, leading the Faculty Senate to organize a task force that will identify possible "challenges" associated with the consolidation.

Several senators were concerned that the merger of the colleges, scheduled to take place this fall, is proceeding without necessary deliberation.

"We were effectively told by the provost that he was going to do this," said Sen. Richard Murray of the College of Social Sciences. "That's not, in my judgment, a good way of proceeding."

Murray and others suggested the Senate hold an open meeting in the next couple of weeks where the merger could be discussed.

"The kind of discussions that need to take place haven't taken place yet," said Sen. Steve Huber.

Provost Edward P. Sheridan, who announced the merger to the Senate, opposed any discussion that would potentially delay the merger. He said people he had met with -- including department chairs and program directors from both colleges and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee -- supported the plan.

"I think it would be a very big mistake for us (to delay the decision)," Sheridan said.

He said the time is right to join the colleges because Social Sciences Dean Richard Rozelle will be stepping down and the University needs a "focus for intellectual activity," a college where most of the core curriculum would be taught.

He stressed that some aspects of the merger would be phased in gradually -- for example, both colleges would keep their current promotion and tenure committees next year.

Sen. Steven Craig, an economics professor, said he was not sure merging Social Sciences with HFAC was the right combination. Craig suggested it might be more advantageous for Social Sciences to merge with another college, if it must merge at all.

"I've never met with people from HFAC, except on the basketball court," Craig said.

Sheridan, however, said combining those particular colleges seemed a natural choice because many of the departments within the colleges do interact, and several departments within HFAC would be found in a social sciences school at other universities.

"This is not an unusual thing," Sheridan said. "This is very common."

The Senate task force, which will be composed of faculty and administrators from both colleges as well as from other parts of the University, will report its initial findings at the Faculty Senate's next meeting May 10.

In other business, the Senate decided to form another task force to investigate complaints from the Department of Computer Science. Officials of that department have said a lack of funding forces them to overload classes and overwork faculty members.

"We have made a very clear case that the department is melting down," said Sen. Ernst Leiss, a computer science professor, claiming that repeated requests for administrative help had been ignored. "What am I going to do?"

Sheridan said the department had made a series of requests for "impossible" budget increases, and former computer science Chairman Bowen Loftin -- who was dismissed as chairman Tuesday morning -- had refused to work with Natural Science and Mathematics Dean John Bear on an acceptable solution.

The Senate agreed to form a small group of members to look into the situation and report back at the May 10 meeting, a proposal Leiss agreed with.
 

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