By Shajara Khan
On 22 July 2020 Professor Claire Annesley, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, held a faculty-wide Town Hall regarding the ‘merger’ of faculties. This comes after the announcement by Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs that due to budget constraints, the current eight faculties will be reduced to six.
In the hour-long town hall meeting, Dean Annesley reiterated several times that the combination of the Arts and Social Sciences, Art and Design, and Built Environment is not a ‘merger’, but the establishment of a ‘mega-faculty’. She stated that the decision came after discussion from senior leadership within the university and declared that no outside consultation was brought in for this matter.
Dean Annesley also laid out the prospects of this ‘mega-faculty, including an increase in interdisciplinary research as well as increased employability for students of the faculty.
Here are some of the concerns that were addressed in the town hall:
- No changes will be made to program titles, so students will be able to graduate with their degrees from their current faculties and schools.
- General Education courses will still be available within the ‘mega-faculty’. For example, if you’re a Built Environment student, you’ll be able to take humanities courses for your Gen Ed.
- The ‘merger’ will lead to students having the option to complete ‘hybrid’ dual-degrees, such as Architecture/Music.
- The Criminology and Criminal Justice Program will be moved to the Law Faculty (no word yet on the possibility of fee increases due to the move).
- There may be courses taken off or added in; there is no definitive answer on this decision.
- No name has been decided for the new faculty. Students will be consulted for this decision.
- Dean Annesley proposed an Indigenous name alongside the new faculty name.
- Regarding the loss of 500 staff, in the case of supervisors leaving, the established contingency plans will be enacted.
- No cuts to faculty funding have been announced. However, there is uncertainty about possible cuts to PhD funding for students.
- The ‘mega-faculty’ will also have one new executive team. The money saved from this decision will either move into improvements to student experience, or the establishment of scholarships for low-SES or Indigenous students.
Responses to further questions about job losses and research funding were made available following the event.