The dangers of a CBS/CFANS merger

The potential merger risks the distinctiveness and selectivity of both colleges.

Daily Editorial Board

In recent weeks, there has been speculation that the College of Biological Sciences  and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences may be merging.

The Minnesota Daily reported Sept. 4 that the University is considering combining the colleges as CBS Dean Robert Elde prepares to retire in June.

Karen Hanson, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, has appointed a task force to investigate the possibility of creating a new college.

“I will ask the task force to consider whether a new college devoted to agriculture, life sciences and the environment might consolidate the strengths of the University in ways that would advance our academic mission and our engagement with local and global communities,” Hanson said in a press release.

There are serious implications for students enrolled in both CBS and CFANS, as undergraduates face the possibility of their colleges’ dissolution to make way for a new one.

While CFANS and CBS enjoy similar life science focuses and share a portion of the St. Paul campus, it’s important to consider each college’s distinctive traditions and histories, as students may choose to enroll in CBS or CFANS for the selective majors and programs they offer.

If the colleges are merged, they risk losing selectivity and the distinguishing factors that graduate and professional schools, as well as employers, have come to expect from these separate collegiate experiences at the University.

The views of students in both colleges should be taken into special consideration, as the scope of their undergraduate opportunities and path to professional careers will be influenced by the quality and depth of instruction within their college.

If CBS and CFANS are to merge, the pooling of resources should not be used as justification for reducing major specificity and departmental programs.