Holub releases details on restructuring

Less than one week after announcing plans to restructure the University of Massachusetts‘ academic colleges, Chancellor Robert Holub offered details of possible changes in an e-mail to the University community yesterday afternoon.

Holub’s proposed plan would eliminate four colleges, in addition to forming a Task Force on Recognition (TFR) to facilitate faculty involvement in the decision process. The chancellor specified that a final decision on the details of the reorganization would not be reached until the faculty had an opportunity to provide feedback.

In his e-mail, Holub described the potential annual savings to be between $1.3 and $1.5 million, estimates he termed as ‘conservative.’ However, the chancellor did not offer an estimate of the one-time costs of restructuring in light of the University’s impending $46 million operating budget deficit for the next fiscal year.

An estimate of the expenses associated with the change has not yet been determined, said University spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.

The crux of the chancellor’s proposed plan involves combining the College of Social and Behavior Sciences with the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, in addition to consolidating the College of Natural Resources and the Environment, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.

The TFR will evaluate the proposal over the next four weeks and provide further feedback to Holub by March 6. In addition, the chancellor called on the Faculty Senate to make a formal recommendation. Holub will present the changes to the senate during its Feb. 9 meeting.

He also instructed the TFR to develop any alternate organizational plans ‘that it finds appropriate.’

Though, the phrasing of the e-mail and his presentation to the faculty last Friday indicate that a restructuring will most likely take place, regardless of full faculty support.

‘I know that not everyone will agree,’ wrote Holub. ‘But I hope that faculty will put aside their personal preferences and work within the proposed structure toward the goal we all want: moving UMass Amherst into the upper echelon of public research universities in the country.’

According to Holub, the official name of the new colleges would be a faculty decision, but temporarily referred to them as the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) and the College of Natural Sciences (CNS).

The chancellor broached the idea of creating an arts and sciences mega-college that would include over 40 departments, but said that he has ‘serious reservations’ about creating such a large administrative unit.

‘I believe that the structures I am proposing make the most sense for the campus at this particular time,’ Holub wrote. ‘They will also demonstrate that we are taking the financial crisis seriously and that we are managing the campus effectively.’

The reorganization would streamline many processes repeated across colleges, thus greatly increasing the administration’s operating efficiency, added Holub.

The chancellor also promised that the implementation of any plan would involve ‘minimal disruption’ for faculty and departments and possibly create new opportunities for cross-departmental collaboration.

Additionally, the School of Nursing would be administered under the College of Public Health and Health Sciences yet maintain some independence with an associate dean. Also, the plan would add the resource economics department to the Isenberg School of Management.

The plan would leave the College of Engineering and the School of Education untouched. Holub was clear in his address to the faculty last Friday that the three pre-professional schools should not be restructured due to possible reaccreditation issues.

The e-mail followed a prevailing sentiment at last Friday’s faculty meeting of a desire for details about Holub’s intentions and various calls for concern over the danger of a budget crisis precipitating reorganization.

Michael King can be reached at mking