The role of Faculty and departmental review in the consolidation of departments

[Advice to Chris van Kessel, Chair of the Department of Agronomy and Range Science  4/27/2004]

Professor van Kessel, acting as Chair of the Plant Science Implementation Committee in College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, posed the following questions concerning the consolidation of four departments (Vegetable Crops, Environmental Horticulture, Agronomy and Range Science and Pomology) into one large department of Plant Sciences:

  • Does such consolidation require a faculty vote of approval?
  • What sort of consultation is needed and has to be documented before the proposal goes to the Academic Senate?
  • If a vote by the individual faculty members is needed, is this stated in one of the Academic Senate bylaws (e.g., Bylaw 55)?
  • Can the Academic Senate reject the consolidation of the 4 departments or does it merely have to be consulted with the Provost retaining a right to ignore its recommendation?
  • Is a vote of the four affected departments needed?

CERJ replied as follows:

What you are doing is  clearly a consolidation of departments as contemplated by PPM Section 200-25 (Transfer, Consolidation, Disestablishment, and Discontinuance of Academic Units and Programs): That section makes a "General Policy Statement":

The process for the transfer, consolidation, disestablishment, or discontinuance of units and programs shall be in accordance with the University's system of shared governance and shall be consonant with the relevant Universitywide policy statements cited in this section.

The shared governance part of that requires consultation with the appropriate Senate bodies:  the PPM notes that consultation should include the Executive Committee of the College of A&ES, as well as the Committee on Academic Budget and Planning Review and the Graduate Council.  The right way to do this is, at the college level, to contact Jim Quinn, the Chair of the Faculty of A&ES.  He can determine how the consultation process should work at the Faculty level.  It may need to be looked at by your Faculty as a whole operating through the A&ES Assembly, particular if it involves any curricular changes.  When things are OK there, it should be forwarded to Bruce Madewell, the Chair of the Davis Division, who can make sure that the relevant divisional Senate committees are in the loop.  If the proposed consolidation has implications for the undergraduate curriculum, the matter may also need to be looked at by the Undergraduate Council, and the Committee on Courses of Instruction.

Wisdom and prudence would dictate that departments should not be consolidated without consultation with the members of the affected departments.  Any such business is governed by Academic Senate Bylaw 55.A, which guarantees voting rights over substantial department business to all Senate members in an department, except where there has been formal delegation to a committee (and in personnel matters that are governed by Section B).  Nevertheless, although wisdom and prudence suggest consultation, the ultimate Senate authority at that level is in the Faculty of the College rather than the departments -- meaning I doubt that a department can veto consolidation if the Faculty of A&ES and the appropriate divisional Senate committees and Administration support it.

This is obviously not a quick process.

So, the pointed answers to your question are:

1. It requires approval by the Faculty of A&ES according to its procedures, which may include a vote of the Faculty Assembly or the Faculty as a whole if it involves curricular change.

2. Whether a faculty vote is needed depends on what you mean by "faculty".  Approval by the Faculty of A&ES is needed (see 1 above) and is governed by its bylaws.  Approval of the department is prudential (see 4 below) and is governed by ASB 55.

3. Yes, Senate approval is necessary, both because departments are from one perspective committees of the Senate and because the PPM requires it from the Administrations side.  The Senate can reject such a change.  My view is that the Provost cannot ignore the Senate (others may have a different view here and it would be an interesting, if ugly, fight if it came to that).

4. Consultation with the affected departments is prudent.  Such consolidation would normally require a vote governed by ASB 55.