STAFF EDITORIAL: College merger plan violates principles of education
November 16, 2010 10:02 PM
During times of financial hardship, businesses must make difficult decisions to stay afloat as long as possible. However, they must also be careful not to recklessly toss aside the attributes most essential to their core values.
SF State is no different. It is attempting, through every desperate measure, to stay fiscally sustainable despite California's bleak economic outlook. Unfortunately, the University is on the verge of discarding one of its most cherished tenants - diversity of thought - for a mere $2 million, at most. The University Planning Advisory Council, in an attempt to pinch every last penny like an old woman at a thrift store, is working on recommendations for President Robert A. Corrigan to reduce the number of colleges from eight to six.
This reduction will hurt the credibility of many departments, a fear expressed by more than 200 faculty and students last month when they met with members of UPAC. For example, under UPAC's Concept B, museum studies, currently a part of the College of Humanities, would move into the College of Creative Arts and the College of Education would combine with the College of Ethnic Studies. This blatant disregard for the integrity of the University's departments suggests a shift away from its core value as an educational institution, which is to promote diversity of thought through the independence of different colleges and departments.
Is it worth it to save money at the expense of the University's culture of diversity? No. Is it worth it to weaken education for the benefit of the bottom line? UPAC thinks so.
UPAC estimates that the reduction will save the University between $1-1.5 million annually. Of course, in the short term that is about 11 percent of SF State's $18 million shortfall and will cost the school six administrative positions - maybe. In its labor agreement, the University has a clause known as retreat rights, which allows certain employees of SF State to retain employment after initial termination.
So it is conceivable that UPAC recommends and Corrigan agrees to merge the colleges to save money only to have the two deans, two associate deans and two college development officers keep their jobs. If this were to happen, the University would save no money and the loss of two colleges would be in vain.
Still, UPAC is chugging along with its closed meetings and vague proposals, putting the University's colleges in danger. If UPAC and Corrigan want to destroy the school's culture, then let the merger happen. If not, then UPAC and its creator need to stop thinking about the insignificant - and possibly imaginary - savings and preserve the University's colleges.
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