Daily Egyptian

USG votes to oppose Chancellor Montemagno’s plan to eliminate all departments

By Cory Ray

At USG’s last regular meeting of the semester Tuesday, Undergraduate Student Government senators voted to oppose Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s plan to eliminate all departments on campus. 

This follows actions taken by the Faculty Senate (FS) and the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC), which also voted to oppose Montemagno’s current reorganization plan.

The measure was proposed by Senator Brandon Kyles, a senior from Chicago studying journalism, who said USG would give undergraduates a “dog in the fight” by taking a stance. 

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“I’m tired of us getting nowhere,” Kyles said when proposing the resolution. “This is our time to make a difference.”

Montemagno’s current plan would eliminate department chairs in favor of a “school” system, in which multiple degree programs would be ran by a single director.

The resolution USG senators voted on stated, in part:

“…the chancellor has refused to provide empirical evidence in support of a unilateral elimination of departments as beneficial across all academic disciplines…”

Senators also voted to state — like FS and GPSC — the chancellor’s plan has “caused avoidable confusion and worry among undergraduate students.”

Montemagno has said the reorganization would save the university $2.3 million, though others have expressed concern rebranding and movement may be costly.

Like many, Vice President Emily Buice said she doesn’t oppose restructuring in general, but she said she’s seen too many concerns from students to believe the plan is the best option.

“We should be conscious that individual departments are different, individual programs are different,” Buice a senior from Tallassee, Alabama studying history, said. “While some programs might benefit from not having a department, others might not.”

She said she’s spoken with students who have said they believe their department chair contributes to the success of their department, and they fear taking that position away could hurt the program.

“[Not] everyone can fit in this small box,” Buice said. “It’s like those little things you play with as a kid: the square won’t fit in the round hole.”

Montemagno has said the elimination of department chairs will free professors to more actively contribute to research, an effort to re-establish the university’s status as a Tier 1 institution.

USG senators collectively said Montemagno has not provided substantial evidence on how complete departmental elimination would boost enrollment, recruitment and retention efforts.

“The way that the chancellor has reacted, especially toward students in my experience, has not been the greatest,” Kyles said.

While the Vision 2025 plan website states Montemagno will accept formal feedback from the Faculty Senate and the Graduate Council, USG and the Graduate and Professional Student Council are absent from that language. It does, however, generally state all feedback is welcome.

“That is literally going against what we do,” Kyles said.

Buice said it’s a trend she’s noticed multiple times, and she said USG should have a formal voice to represent undergraduates in reorganization matters.

“At the end of the day, we’ve established that we do want a seat at the table,” she said. “While I understand the importance of having GPSC and Faculty Senate’s voice, the undergraduate students are also the heart and the soul of this university. We deserve to have our voices heard and wanted.”

Staff writer Cory Ray can be reached at cray@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter @coryray_de.

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