No to merger, yes to more collaboration

While CBS and CFANS won’t go forward with a merger, the two colleges can still collaborate.

After months of advisory meetings and task force discussions, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson scrapped a proposed merger between the College of Biological Sciences and College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Hanson announced the decision in an email to the colleges Feb. 5.

The taskforce recommended against a CBS-CFANS merger largely due to negative feedback from stakeholders. Hanson said she would “abide by the recommendation but work to strengthen the relationship between the two colleges.”

Many CFANS and CBS faculty members and students opposed the merger out of concern that joining the two colleges would sacrifice the unique identity each has tried to create for its major programs and research practices.

Though the colleges are not among the largest at the University of Minnesota, students in particular were skeptical that maintaining a small, tight-knit, community atmosphere among undergraduates would still be possible if the colleges merged.

While a merger between CBS and CFANS will not be taking place in the foreseeable future, students and faculty should support increased collaboration between the colleges. Though they may have different cultures, the colleges share resources, course requirements and a campus, with many CFANS and CBS students visiting the same buildings in St. Paul over the course of their undergraduate careers.

It’s encouraging to see administrators take student and faculty opinion under serious consideration, and the practice should continue as more ideas and proposals emerge to help connect common interests and goals between CFANS and CBS.