CBS, CFANS merger details still unclear

Administrators say faculty and staff positions likely won’t be cut.

CBS, CFANS merger details still unclear

Roy Aker

After the possibility of a new University of Minnesota college was announced last week, administrators say faculty and staff positions likely wouldn’t be affected by the change.

According to administrators, the new college, which would combine the College of Biological Sciences and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, would cut one dean position but wouldn’t eliminate faculty and staff members currently working in the colleges.

A release from the Office of Academic Affairs and Provost said “it’s too early to tell” how faculty and staff positions will be affected, but the office expects no immediate impact on current employees.

CBS Dean Robert Elde said the possible new college is an “economizing strategy” and is aimed at better serving students.

“Given the number of departments, people and students we serve, we can’t see any substantive reduction in workforce that would accompany this…” he said.

Elde plans to retire next summer. CFANS Dean Allen Levine stepped down in August and was replaced by interim Dean Brian Buhr.

In fiscal year 2012, Elde made $231,600 and Levine made $226,060, according to salary data collected in November 2012.

Information on the new college’s potential budget or funding sources hasn’t yet been released.

Because the two deans are leaving, Elde said, now is the right time to consider the new college, which he said he and Levine have discussed for years.

Current students should see “no change” to their academic plans, Elde said.

“The proposal is for one academic unit that maintains two graduate admissions streams,” he said.

Questions about agriculture

At a Board of Regents meeting Friday, President Eric Kaler addressed concerns regarding the loss of CFANS as an individual college, and the effect that might have on the University’s investment in the agricultural community.

“I do want to ensure you — and our partners, alumni and friends in the agricultural community — that this exploration in no way signals any intermission of our commitment to agriculture,” he said at the meeting.

Kaler said he and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson sent about 70 letters to agriculture and food industry leaders to keep them informed of discussions about the new college.

A familiar process

The idea of combining colleges to create a new one isn’t unheard of at the University.

In 2006, a University task force created CFANS by consolidating the College of Natural Resources, the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. 

During his report to the Regents on Friday, Kaler said the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University have successfully completed similar transitions.

Elde said Hanson will lead a task force, which will be announced in a few weeks, to discuss the potential new college.

He said he hopes students, faculty and staff will participate in discussion about the potential new college in the coming weeks.