MOU ready for Regents, public
The task force charged with figuring out details of a merger between the Utah State University system and the College of Eastern Utah released a draft memorandum of understanding last week. It held few surprises for those who have been involved at the college or have worked there during the past few years.
The transition to the institution that the MOU says will be called Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah has been discussed for months. With the July, 2009 board of regents' vote to have the two schools work together on some kind of merger document, most of the information in the draft was already known.
"The MOU is the next major step in the process," said transition director Cory L. Duckworth, in the news release that was generated Thursday. "It is the culminating work of several leadership teams from both institutions. It evolved from many meetings and reflects input of a broad representation from both campus communities."
For the past two years, the state and CEU have struggled with how to maintain the school with what has been, until this year, diminishing student numbers and higher costs. While the school will now become affiliated with USU, it will be considered a comprehensive regional college that differs from USU's other branch campuses throughout the state. Some of those differences are spelled out in the memorandum, such as the designation that the school will have its own chancellor who will report directly to the president of USU, the declaration that the school will have some real independence in social, cultural and athletic programs, and will have a two-tier system of tuition with one being close to the amount that CEU now charges students in lower division classes (as well as technical and career education) and charging USU the going rate for upper division courses.
The school will operate under a shared governance model that will allow a great deal of independence not found on other campuses. However, all structures are required to be approved by the USU president and the university's board of trustees.
Many students that are currently attending CEU have been concerned about their degree program. The MOU states that any degree awarded after July 1, 2010 will be a USU degree, but transcripts will note that the degree was awarded from USU-CEU. As for curriculum, after next July 1, it will all be determined by USU policies and procedures.
Regarding faculty, the MOU states that those that are already tenured at CEU will be granted the rank of associate professor with tenure. They may also be considered for full professor status if they submit a dossier that would be reviewed in accordance with USU policies. There are also provisions in the MOU for tenure for those already in tenure track, but who have not yet attained tenure. Any faculty hired after July 1, 2010 will be subject to USU policies and procedures as far as tenure.
The MOU also says the school will create a new category that will include others on campus who have been instructors, but who do not fall into four other categories in place. The MOU states that the "new category will recognize the unique credentials, responsibilities and expectations of tenured and tenure-track faculty who teach in career-technical fields."
The school will also have a dual reporting system where the day- to- day operations will be run through the school's administration and management, while broader topics of importance will be handled within both structures. Disciplines on the campus will have "clusters" and those clusters will be headed by "coordinators" with reporting lines through the chancellor to USU.
Faculty on the USU-CEU campus will have representation on the USU faculty senate, as in accordance with current USU policies.
As for scheduling and campus calendars, because some planning has to be completed years in advance, USU-CEU will maintain some independence in calendaring until it becomes practicable for both schools for one calendar to be maintained.
One of the major concerns for campus employees was methods of handling medical plans, payroll and tuition benefits. The MOU states that current employees will maintain their regular medical plans during the transition period, but they will be evaluated to see if they can be unified with the present plans at USU.
Payroll will also be adjusted over time, transitioning from a twice- a- month pay plan to a once a month plan such as is now used at USU.
For employees on the payroll before July 1, 2010, tuition benefits will remain the same for lower division courses with a 50 percent benefit for upper division courses. Any employees starting after that date will get a 50 percent benefit in accordance with current USU policy.
In terms of student services, the USU-CEU campus will retain a separate recruiting program to attract students to its campus. However, there will be some coordination between the flagship campus and the Price campus to attain the best results in recruiting.
On-site administration of federal programs will remain on the Price campus, but authorization, awards and reports will all flow through USU.
Student government will continue to be independent from USU student government, except that the CEUSA president will collaborate with the ASUSU president on "projects of common interest."
The CEU Alumni Association and the CEU Foundation will still be part of the new affiliation. At some point, the collaboration or consolidation of the CEU Foundation with the USU Foundation will be examined to enhance private support for the Price campus.
In terms of information systems, network and security systems, the move will be toward consolidation between the two campuses. Web sites will also be transitioned to be more in line with a combined mission of the two campuses as well.
While those who prepared this MOU understand that this action solves some of the problems of combining operations between the schools, they also say that there are many other details that will have to be resolved as the merger takes place.
An open meeting after press time was held on the CEU campus in Price on Monday concerning this MOU. Those who prepared the draft are seeking public input, and even though those meetings have passed, the public can respond with comments to email@example.com.
On Friday (Dec. 11) the Utah Board of Regents will consider this MOU when they meet in a regular meeting at the Board of Regents Building at The Gateway, 60 S., 400 W. in Salt Lake.
Also, during that meeting, the board will consider the programs that have been marked for discontinuance by CEU including the Associate of Applied Science in Administrative Assistant/Information Processing Specialist degree, Associate of Applied Science in Building Construction and Construction Management degree, Associate of Applied Science in Computer Networking and Certificate of Completion in Microsoft Network Engineer degree, Associate of Applied Science in Electronics degree and Associate of Applied Science and Certificate of Completion in Graphic Arts degree.