Arts amalgamation passes

By Katy Anderson

It’s official, baret-wearing English majors will be grouped in with calculator-carrying economists starting April 1.

Well, almost. The highest governing academic body at the University of Calgary, the General Faculties Council, voted to approve the amalgamation of the social sciences, communication and culture, humanities and fine arts faculties into one arts faculty — a model similar to the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta — Thursday, May 21.

The final hurdle for the ultra-faculty is the Board of Governors meeting June 25. The BoG is made up of community members and university stakeholders and has been described by U of C provost Alan Harrison as a “rubber stamp.”

The motion passed almost unanimously at GFC, with only one person, Students’ Union social sciences faculty representative Chris Kalantzis, voting against it. Before the vote the amalgamation timeline was discussed, as was who would head the new faculty and what the transition team would look like and how it would be incorporated into the faculty.

Kevin McQuillan, current Social Sciences dean and future interim arts faculty dean, said he expects the amalgamation to simplify the admissions process and make it easier for students to move through their programs.

“Beyond that, there’s hope that this will help to raise the profile of the arts and social sciences and will strengthen their position on the campus,” said McQuillan.

SU vice-president academic Meg Martin said that after a long line of students pushing for change at this institution, the amalgamation is a positive step.

“I think the system now doesn’t make sense and it does need to change,” said Martin. “We need to move in a direction that is more streamlined, that students can understand better, that students can navigate better, that encourages more collegiality within the arts at this university.”

Martin echoed her thoughts from before the GFC vote, noting that the SU must diligently ensure students currently paying are not left behind.

Moving forward, it’s the details that need to be hashed out, she said.

“It’s going to get into things like promotions, tenure, it’ll go into admission — what kind of course offerings are made, the way that programs are organized,” said Martin. “The way that advising is done is a real priority for us, how you organize the academic staff, do you have several associate deans of students?”

The arts faculty will come into effect April 1, 2010, with the promise that any wrinkles will be ironed out by April 1, 2011. Anyone enrolled before the April 1 start day will not be affected by the change.

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