Working out the details
A meeting of the departmental committees from the College of Eastern Utah and Utah State Univeristy last week brought to light just how difficult it is when to institutions must merge together to become one.
The meeting which was held on Wednesday, included representatives of all five groups who are working together to help the merger become not only a reality but a workable plan when the whole thing comes together on July 1, 2010.
"We are trying to create a new institution here," said CEU interim president Mike King at the beginning of the get together. "We are looking to define roles more clearly and staying with the core issues. We are looking to bring added value for increased operations."
The five groups then reported their progress in negotiations. The five areas included student issues, information systems, administrative issues, academics, and public relations. Each report pointed to good things happening between the groups in terms of progress, but they also said some issues still needed to be resolved and details worked out.
The student issues group reported that they are examining redundancies in student services, recruitment, reporting structure and what would need to happen to integrate Banner between the campuses. Banner is a state system for finance including scholarships student tuition, pay checks and other financial matters.
One of the biggest concerns that students have had is how they will be represented within the system. They say they don't want to lose their voice with a bigger instituation that is 200 miles away.
"We met with the student government assurred them that they will have a full voice within the Associated Students of Utah State University," said James Morales of USU, who is the co-chair of that committee with Alex Herzog of CEU. "A representative will sit on the executive council and on the local advisory council as well."
Concerning information systems, Eric Mantz, the CEU co-chair of that committee said that in most systems USU and CEU are similar.
"Banner is the exception to that and we are forming committtees to addres the time lines for resolving those issues," said Mantz.
Issues concerning administration (personnel, finance, facilities, auxilaries) were also addressed by the committee co-chair Brandon Keller of CEU. He said that there were a number of differences that needed to be worked out including the fact that CEU has a company purchased medical plan for employees and USU is self funded. Other issues involve tuition benefits for employees and their families (CEU provides full funding for tuition while USU offers a 50 percent discount), that CEU employees accrue vacation faster than USU employees and that the pay periods between the two schools are different (CEU is twice a month, while USU is once a month).
"The tie in with students and financial matters concerning banner is also a difference," said Keller. "But we have agreed that CEU is going to be able to maintain line items in the budget."
Greg Benson, the academic vice president at CEU said that the academic issues committee has also tackled a number of items and has resolved many of them.
"We've agreed that future degrees that come from our campus will be USU degrees," he said. "Faculty will also be hired under USU polices and the academic organization management will be managed on a day to day basis here with broader situations being looked at by those in Logan."
Benson also said that the committee, including those from CEU, have looked at a new plan that will be very beneficial for the CEU faculty, but that it wasn't quite in its final form yet.
"We will be getting you all together to talk about it in a few days," said Benson. "But what we are considering will embrace all of our faculty."
Brad King, who is co-chair of the public relations committee, talked about how the college and the univerisity will be dealing with the publics questions and concerns about creating a new entity that is associated with USU. He also went over the timeline for the development of the merger. Those dates include:
Oct. 30, 2009. recommendations and resolutions from the committees go to Cory Duckworth who is overseeing the schools transition.
Nov. 3, 2009. The executive committee of the transition will look at the recommendations.
Nov. 13, 2009. The first draft of the memorandum of understanding will be put together and put out for comment in late November.
Dec. 1, 2009. The final draft of the MOU will be put together.
Dec. 9, 2009. The program will be rolled out.
Dec. 11, 2009. The Board of Regents will be presented the plan for approval.
In the January-February time period the legislature will look over the plan and will approve or ask for changes.
July 1, 2010. The transition should be done and the schools will be affiliated.
August 2010. The first day of school will mark the beginning of the CEU-USU era on the Price and Blanding campus'.
Questions concerning details were answered after the presentations with USU Stan Albrect and USU provost Ray Coward answering most of the inquiries. They calmed fears about programs cuts, particularly one asked about concerning what a "viable" program is.
"We intend to do what is best for the students and it is as simple as that," said Coward as he summed up the meeting, the purpose of the committees and the merger in general.