Provost Allen defends plan to merge two of U’s colleges

by Jessica Burke

Board of Regents committee members focused on proposed structural changes to Professional Studies, even though they won’t vote on the issue until July.
Gene Allen, provost for professional studies, made his presentation as part of a series on academic developments in different areas of the University. The provostal area has been in existence for about a year.
Allen chose to tell Educational Planning and Policy Committee members what administrators in the provostal area have learned about the programs since it was created.
Regent Jean Keffeler said she would like to get an idea of what the proposals will entail.
“This may be the only opportunity we have before we put the budget together,” she said.
Allen said the proposition that has created the most discussion was the proposal to merge the colleges of Human Ecology with College of Education and Human Development.
“I’m driven initially here by programmatic issues,” Allen said. Both colleges have several programs dealing with children, family and education, and the programs could be made stronger if the colleges were together, he said.
“The majority of people think I’m doing this to save money,” Allen said. He added that this is not the primary concern in any of the proposals.
Keffeler expressed concern that the merger was not proposed to save money in light of the serious financial troubles the University will face in coming years.
Although he could not give an exact figure, Allen said the potential administrative savings in merging the colleges would be around 10 percent to 15 percent of their current budgets.
“I would be very surprised if there were not to be some savings,” he said. But he also pointed out that before the University would see savings, there could be transitional costs in the merger.
The committee took no action on the matter, but Keffeler said she would like to indicate for the record her “very grave concern” that the proposed changes in Professional Studies are not responsive to the University’s financial problem.
The proposed changes, announced March 26, also include a possible reorganization of biological sciences studies and an evaluation of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs’ position as a stand-alone college.