Students, faculty call for colleges to stay separate
|Students and faculty members said Monday the colleges of Communications
and Fine Arts did not have enough in common to merge.
During an open forum Monday in the Fine Arts building, about 80 students asked Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Bob Fisher why the university might merge the two colleges. Fisher said each college focuses on communication, which will act as a link if the administration opts for the merger.
Steve Mayes, professor of art, said that connection was weak.
"If that were the case, it seems to me appropriate to combine these two colleges with computer programs, English, foreign languages and probably the study of DNA," he said. "Communication as a link probably needs to be reexamined."
Apart from the communication link, the proposed merger might improve the College of Fine Arts' role in providing general education for students who are not art majors, Fisher said.
Cara Sullivan, a junior art major of Stockton Springs, Maine, said the College of Fine Arts should not let general education take top priority.
"I didn't come here to get a general education; I came here to paint," Sullivan said. "Had I realized that we didn't have our own dean, I wouldn't have come here because that kind of representation is vital."
Like Sullivan, Evan Lindquist, professor of art, said the college needs its own dean for leadership and advancement.
"We could have leadership nationally, and we could see some kind of leadership in this college," Lindquist said. "I've been here 35 years, and I'm looking at the same goals as when I came here."
Fisher, however, said both colleges also need to improve their efficiency.
"The people who fund us expect us to return benefit for the dollars that we have," he said. "Change is hard on everybody. It's not quite as simple as ÔLet us do our art.' "
According to the Fall Enrollment Fact Book, the College of Fine Arts' 1997-1998 education and general budget was $2,184,705, which ranks fourth among the eight colleges. The College of Communications' 1997-1998 education and general budget was $1,274,890, which ranks sixth most among other colleges.
Virginia Sullivan, instructor in journalism, said her experience in the business world has taught her that mergers usually shortchange the people involved.
"Any time you have a merger, the identities of the two entities that merge are lost," Sullivan said. "The funds are normally cut."
Bill Rowe, professor of art, said the administration should not let the cost of hiring and paying a new dean decide the colleges' future.
"Even with fringe benefits, (a dean's salary) doesn't equal one private paid parking lot," Rowe said.
Dr. Russell Shain, dean of the colleges of Communications and Fine Arts, said the university's decision must preserve both colleges' identities
Stephanie Curton, a junior journalism major of Maumelle, said she thinks the university has not informed students about the plans for the two colleges.
"If questions were answered about what the benefits were, we'd be more apt to go along with it," Curton said.
Fisher said he will recommend a solution to university President Dr. Les Wyatt and will announce it Monday.
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