Help needed: Pros and Cons of merging academic departments

Zhongguo Xiong ZXIONG at
Sat May 22 12:18:12 EST 1993

Dear netters:
The College of Agriculture at the University of Arizona is considering
a merge between Department of Entomology, Department of Plant Pathology,
and Department of Plant Science. The driving forces, among others, are
budgetary considerations and the University's recent re-emphasis on
undergrauate education.
Currently, two department heads have resigned. Costs for nation-wide
searches of the heads plus startup funds are estimated at about a half
of a million dollars. At the moment, the University of Arizona is still
in an economic crisis like most other higher education institutes. The
short term gain of merging the three department into a school appears
quite significant in the current environment. Only a new director will
be hired to run the new school. Currently, only Plant Science has an
undergraduate major and the other two do not have one. All of the departments
have a very strong graduate program.
I would like to solicit comments, factual informations regarding the long
term effects of a such merge. I would appreciate any examples that you can
find to support your comments or opinions. Specific questions are:
1. What is likelyhood of one discipline taken over by another? For example,
Entomology is taken over by plant people and squeezed out of the school within
10 years. Any examples?
2. What are the effects of merging on productivty of the faculty, specifcally
in generating outside fundings and publications?
3. What are the effects on both undergraduate and graduate programs? Would the
merger strengthen the undergraduate education? Graduate education? Would one
of the graduate program be eliminated or merged with other graduate programs?
4. Would the merger help graduate student recruitment to a particular field,
i.e., mycology, or just the opposite?
5. What are the effects of the merger on the visibility of individual programs
in the national scientific community? on panel's review of grant proposals by
faculty in the new school?
6. How would the merger affect the morale of faculty members?
7. Would a director be able to run a school of 70+ faculty members, similar
numbers of staff and graduate students?
Any comments, suggestions are welcome. Please post or email to me at:
Z. Xiong

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