The decision to restructure the University of Minnesota Graduate School was made seven weeks ago, but exactly how that restructuring will take place is still unknown.
The Senate Research Committee — a group that represents the interests of faculty, academic professionals, students and civil service staff in research — will bring forward a report on Thursday to the Faculty Senate asking that the administration “reconsider its efforts to close the Graduate School.”
At the very least, the research committee said until critical issues are resolved by faculty through its governance system it would be “unwise” to close the Graduate School.
“Objectivity, independence, and an emphasis on quality are required to best guide decisions related to research, program development and assessment, graduate student selection, and the awarding of graduate fellowships,” the report says. “These criteria have been hallmarks of the Graduate School over the decades. The SRC is concerned that any loss of these characteristics will negatively impact research quality at the University, particularly in the following key areas currently organized by the Graduate School.”
A motion is also being brought forth by University Senators to “reject the proposal to dissolve the Graduate School as ill-considered.”
The motion calls the proposal “fundamentally flawed,” for reasons including that it models graduate education on undergraduate education, though the two have significantly different purposes, and that it divides M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, although in many disciplines the two are inherently linked.
The Daily reported earlier this month the University Policy on Reorganization was broken when the administration went forward with the decision to restructure the School without proper faculty consultation.
Because it is not within their responsibilities, the Board of Regents have not acted on anything regarding the Graduate School, chairwoman Patricia Simmons said.
But University Senators are bringing forward their motion since a proposal was never brought to the Senate Consultative Committee , as the reorganization policy requires.
The Faculty Senate would then ask the proper faculty channels be consulted if the administration pursues a reconstruction.
On March 11 Senior Vice President and Provost Tom Sullivan denied any wrongdoing on behalf of the administration and said discussion among faculty leadership is taking place, which he said is the reorganization policies’ intent.
Regardless of the University Senate’s motions, the end result is unknown by even the implementation committee.
At the first open implementation meeting March 11, committee chairman and Institute of Technology Dean Steven Crouch said it is unclear how the reconstruction will improve graduate education.
The committee, which has held two open meetings and several closed meetings, is working with an April 17 deadline, though the administration has said they will be given more time if necessary, and has yet to begin to make any decisions.
College of Liberal Arts Dean Jim Parente , however, who led last meeting’s discussion, said the team hopes to discuss resolutions in the next few weeks.
Since it is late in the school year, Parente said the committee would like to make a recommendation quickly so it can be shared with the University community.
“If we were to let it drag out I don’t think we, nor our community at large, would have the stamina to drag this out even longer,” he said at Wednesday’s meeting.
The open meeting last week held a much different tone and was smaller than the first open meeting, but the message from the meeting’s attendees was still the same — faculty pointed out that the current structure has many strengths and the implementation team said it must gather more information before anything is certain.
At both open meetings Crouch and Parente, who leads discussions when Crouch is absent, expressed that there is a good chance many programs, such as admissions, will be kept under some sort of centralized system, though the school ultimately will be dissolved.
Another open meeting will be held Monday from 3:35 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. in the Classroom Office Building in room B25 on the St. Paul Campus.
If a report has been filed by the implementation team, the Faculty Consultative Committee intends to bring it up for discussion at the April 30 Faculty Senate meeting.