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Board of Regents approves college split

Faculty members voice concern at lack of information, input about plan

By Caleb Slinkard and Adam Troxtell
On February 9, 2011

The Texas A&M System Board of Regents passed a college reorganization proposal that was discouraged by the majority of A&M-Commerce faculty, according to input from faculty senate members and a university-wide survey.

The Board of Regents passed the college reorganization proposed by the A&M-Commerce administration on Feb. 4. The proposal will go to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for a 30-day posting period during which proposal is open for public comment.

Faculty Senate President Dr. Lavelle Hendricks said he believes the biggest problem faculty members have with the reorganization going ahead is the limited communication and knowledge they have received about it.

"I think for the most part, when all of this came about there seemed to be a lack of communication of what the final product would entail," he said. "As a result of that, it seems as though it has just slid down the slippery slope and it's just been very difficult to get a handle on things."

Hendricks said he has asked A&M-Commerce President Dan Jones to come before the Faculty Senate and explain the reorganization plan in detail and address the concerns faculty members have about how it will work and affect the way A&M-Commerce operates.

"When I met with [him], I asked him to come before the faculty senate to explain what this entire reorganization structure is so the faculty will know," he said. "The faculty has believed that, for the most part, at times there has been some miscommunication or lack of information as well. So, in order to understand fully what this reorganization plan is going to be, the faculty senate has asked the president to come address that, and that's what he plans to do."

He said there are concerns from faculty members about the reorganization process, time frame and overall cost.

"Again, we don't know what this entire plan is going to look like," he said. "We don't know how this is going to be paid for. These are the questions we've asked the administration. Number one, communicate with us. Number two, how do you plan to pay for all of these changes that are going to occur on campus? More importantly, when does this plan go into effect? When will it be implemented?"

Once the faculty gain this knowledge, Hendricks said he believes the process will become much more smooth. He also said this will eliminate any false information or rumors from getting loose and causing any anxiety.

"When there is erroneous information circling around, when there is misinformation circulating around, when there is a lack of communication, those stories take on a life in and of themselves," he said.

As for the reorganization plan going ahead despite the task force's recommendation, Hendricks said he does not feel the administration completely brushed off Faculty Senate requests.

"I don't think the administration ignored it," he said. "One of the recommendations was, basically, if you're going to look at this, reconstitute another task force. Well, the administration took at heart what the task force sent forth and decided to do that. One thing I have learned over the years and will continue to learn is that we are a recommending body."


According to faculty senate member Dr. John Smith, a majority of the faculty voted against the proposed organization in an online survey conducted by the university.

"Faculty who responded to the survey were in a general agreement that the reorganization should not take place," Smith said. "Many were worried about the cost. It might be a good idea, but not now. Some said yes to the organization, and they have changed some things from the original proposal."

According to Smith, some faculty members didn't vote in the survey because they didn't see any point in it.

"From faculty that I have talked to, my sense of the perception of this reorganization was that it was going to happen no matter what," Smith said.

Smith acknowledged that the administration did make some attempts to meet faculty wishes.

"The initial document mentioned merging departments, including my own, which the administration removed," he said. "The administration wanted to do something that was in the best interest of the university, which is admirable, but the senate is the voice of the faculty."

Associate Professor of Political Science Chad King was also frustrated by the lack of information.

"I am not terribly fond of the process that was used to lead to this conclusion," he said. "Initially, the committee that was going to consider this was made up of faculty and staff, then they asked for more assistance and guidance, and they were eliminated and it was given to the deans. So, it's hard to know because I don't feel like the process has been open enough to make a completely formed decision."

As reported by the East Texan last semester, a task force created by A&M-Commerce Provost Dr. Larry Lemanski to formulate a recommendation regarding the reorganization of the university's colleges had voted not to accept the reorganization plan on the grounds of a lack of information.

The College Reorganization Task Force turned in their recommendation to Lemanski on Sept. 24, voting 11-to-2 that the Provost's office needed to provide more information and direction in order for them to create a reorganization plan.

The Deans Council then made a recommendation to the Provost, who made a recommendation to the President. President Jones then proposed the reorganization to the Texas A&M System Board of Regents, who passed it. The only official faculty input received by the A&M-Commerce administration consisted of the original task force, which voted against it based on a lack of information, and the faculty survey, which by faculty accounts revealed a negative opinion of the reorganization by the faculty who voted.

President Dr. Dan Jones and Provost Dr. Larry Lemanski were out of town and unavailable for comment at press time.

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