Possible college merger concerns many
Faculty, students express wish to participate in decision
Principal parties say they want colleges separate so they can keep thier identities.
|Students and faculty are pondering their futures as the administration
inches toward a decision about whether to combine the colleges of Communications
and Fine Arts.
Dr. Bob Fisher, vice president for academic affairs, said Sunday the administration will either hire a new dean for the College of Fine Arts, combine the two or continue to operate the colleges separately with Dr. Russell Shain as dean of both.
Some students and faculty members said the colleges should remain separate so they can maintain their identities.
Janet Wright, a graduate student in music performance of Jonesboro, said she thinks the university should hire a dean for the College of Fine Arts.
"Having a dean of our own would be the best solution for everybody," Wright said. "Dean Shain has always been supportive of Fine Arts, but it's just not his gig."
Shain has acted as dean of the College of Communications since 1990.
The university also named him dean of the College of Fine Arts in 1995 when Dr. John Keith left. Steve Mayes, professor of art, said he opposes combining the colleges.
"The two colleges have two totally different missions and have little in common," Mayes said.
Mayes said he served on a committee that dealt with combining colleges when he taught at West Texas State A&M University.
"It's a very destructive process," he said. "Schools lost their identities, and it left (them) in turmoil."
Dr. Robin Dauer, assistant professor of music, said the College of Fine Arts needs to stay separate to remain distinctive.
According to the Fall Enrollment Fact Book, the college has only 378 students, the least among the university's eight colleges. Because of the college's size, it needs its own dean to help secure money, Dauer said.
"We like our own dean," he said. "In the funding wars, it would be to our advantage."
Jack Zibluk, instructor in journalism, said merging the colleges also would rob the College of Communications of its unique character.
The college has 420 students, which ranks seventh among other colleges, and remains the state's only college of communications. Former dean Dr. Robert Hoskins and journalism department founder Leland "Tex" Plunkett spent their lives building the College of Communications, Zibluk said.
"This is a dishonor to those people," he said. "We are the college of communications in the state."
Dr. Lillie Fears, assistant professor of journalism, said she did not learn about the forthcoming decision until Jan. 19.
"By the time I heard, I thought, ÔWhy not just give me a new letterhead?' " she said.
Like Fears, Mayes said he did not think Fisher has involved faculty in the decision.
"That's a terrible way to do things," he said. "It would've been nice to have more faculty input on the decision."
Wright said students also have lacked a voice in Fisher's plan.
"I hope student concerns are taken in before the decision is made," she said.
Lane Dickerson, a senior journalism major of Jonesboro, said the College of Communications will hold a panel today to discuss the three options.
"I think students have been able to voice their opinions," Dickerson said. "I think they (administrators) should hire a new dean for the College of Fine Arts; it's the simplest way."
Jason Henry, a junior radio/television and speech communication major of Malvern, takes classes in both colleges.
Henry said the university should join the colleges because they offer similar courses.
"I think it's an outstanding idea because a lot of the programs intertwine with each other," Henry said.
Many journalism students take desktop publishing, which resembles the graphic design courses that the College of Fine Arts offers, Henry said.
He also said students could distinguish between the two disciplines even if the colleges merged.
"Students will be able to see the bright line that separates the two," he said. "I think if it's under one program, it will encourage people to major in that program."
Like Henry, Amy Seitz, a senior radio/television major and music minor of Hot Springs, spends time in both colleges.
Seitz, however, said the two colleges should not join.
"I don't think it will be beneficial to either college," she said. "I came to ASU because a College of Communications exists."
Fisher met with Shain Tuesday to discuss plans for the two colleges, but Shain said he could not talk about the meeting.
Fisher said Sunday the administration should decide about the colleges' futures within the next two weeks.
(Additional reporting by Lance Turner, Scott Christian and Millie Cummings)
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