U of C provost Dr. Alan Harrison says he expects the May 21st vote on faculty amalgamation to go through.
Gauntlet file photo

The art of amalgamating faculties

Final vote to group 60 per cent of students together to happen May 21st

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The highest academic governing body at the University of Calgary will vote Thursday on whether or not to lump 60 per cent of all students into one faculty.

The move, which is expected to pass with a majority after a discussion at General Faculties Council, would see social science, humanities, fine arts and communication and culture combined into a single liberal arts faculty -- a system already used by many post-secondary institutions across the country, including the University of Alberta.

The University Planning Committee voted unanimously to recommend the amalgamation to GFC, U of C provost Dr. Alan Harrison told Students' Union members at a Students' Academic Assembly -- the highest academic body of the SU -- meeting.

"Our hope is there will be a similarly strong vote at GFC," said Harrison.

Despite the large number of students this would affect, the SU is supporting the move, noting as long as it's done properly it could benefit students.

"I think it's a really good opportunity, but I do think it will require a lot of vigilance on our part," said SU vice-president academic Megan Martin, noting she will be sitting on the transition team.

SU social sciences representative Chris Kalantzis echoed Martin's call for a close eye on the amalgamation.

"I think the Students' Union and the faculty representatives directly concerned with the amalgamation need to ensure that they are keeping the provost on his toes, especially since Harvey Weingarten is going to be leaving office this January."

Both Martin and Kalantzis stressed their biggest concern is ensuring that no students get left behind by the transition.

"If there was less advising in the interim, that's the kind of the risk that would run ­-- if there is a reduction in support staff and students didn't know where they could go in the process," said Martin.

Kalantzis pointed to the loss, and decision not to rehire, a key social sciences secretary. Martin spoke about the troubles already facing fine arts to hire enough support staff, but noted it was a university-wide issue and could be a product of the economy.

Martin said the battle would come down to communication, making sure that students know they will matriculate with whatever degree they started in -- meaning their course requirements won't change -- or have the option of changing to the new system.

She also pointed to potential benefits of the amalgamation, including streamlining the academic appeals process and making the transition easier for students entering the U of C.

"For admissions, it will be a lot less confusing for students to know where they belong," said Martin. "We do have a lot of students transferring from faculty to faculty to faculty. It should harmonize the way that students change their degrees and harmonize admissions requirements so that students will have a better idea of what they're getting into and there will be more fluidity as far as course offerings go."




I think the arts department wouldn't be in such low esteem with supporters if the department actually taught art, instead of simply allowing the usual "self exploration" that nobody really likes or cares about anymore.

In its day, expressive abstraction was the cat's pajamas, but these days we've all been there got the hand-made T-shirt thank you very much for the enlightenment.

Amalgamation of fine arts into humanities and social sciences makes to anyone who is truly into the arts as much sense as the amalgamation of Kinesiology into math sciences --- there's physics in both but the pocket protectors and the gym shorts don't mix.

The problem with the arts department is that nobody is into the arts anymore because the arts department continues to produce the same old pushed-envelope crap it's been producing since the mid 20th century.

Today's modern audience wants reality more than anything, and they're sick of introspection and redefinition. When people go to the theatre today they want real drama; they want to hear real singing, see real dancing, experience real art in the way it's been expeienced since the renaissance but in the modern context.

When people go to the art galleries, they want to see portraits of real people, landscapes of real places and still lifes of real things. And for sure, some abstract "expressionism" to spice it all up, but not too much to spoil the natural flavors.

So find program administrators who are willing to fight against those old ironic art "reactionaries" who have barricaded themselves in the art department since the beginning of the television age, to actually teach students how to produce some quality art; rebalance the 'learning' with the 'teaching,' kick out the self-indulgent bums and bring the art world into the 21st century's new reality ready or not.

Turn up the 'fine' and turn down the 'art' and let the fine arts department stand alone.