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Third-party review of A&M administrative structure has some liberal arts faculty worried

Dean of College of Liberal Arts urges patience as professors fear changes to university
Posted at 10:13 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 23:13:22-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Texas A&M has hired MGT Consulting to review the administrative structure of the university, causing faculty in the College of Liberal Arts concern about the future of their school.

Texas A&M contracted MGT to interview current and former faculty and students, in order to conduct a review of the university’s administrative and operational structure. The results of this review were initially expected to be presented to university leadership by early October; the report has yet to arrive, according to Texas A&M.

In a faculty senate meeting held late last month, president M. Katherine Banks explained that once this report is completed it would better help her leadership understand how to direct funds.

“We are reviewing administrative areas within our organizations in order to reduce and remove bureaucracy; to allow our faculty and staff to focus on their activities, and not redundant processes," Banks stated in the recorded September meeting.

Faculty such as psychology professor Arnold LeUnes, who has taught at Texas A&M for more than 50 years, worry about a restructuring that might negatively affect certain colleges and departments.

“Rumors had circulated a little bit," LeUnes told KRHD News. "... A fear that they would do away with the entire College of Liberal Arts. In my personal opinion, that would be a step back into the dark ages, because A&M has spent the last 50, 60 years I've been here trying to develop liberal arts.”

LeUnes added, however, that while he would be shaken to see the removal of the College of Liberal Arts, he is open to the idea of some change, including restructuring departments. However, he hopes it would be done in a way that benefits the department of psychological & brain sciences, noting his concern if this department was moved to another college.

“I would not be nonplussed at all if all of the psychology on campus fell under the same department, whether it’s in this college or some other college," he pointed out.

Steven Oberhelman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, issued an email to his faculty earlier this month regarding MGT's report. In it he stated:

"Numerous rumors are being floated as to what this all means for liberal arts and other colleges. Supposedly, colleges will be eliminated or consolidated; or they will be reconfigured, with departments shifted to another college. With over 90 departments and 17 colleges, the combinations are without end. I urge you, however, to be patient and not to panic...

... I do believe that the university will see changes in the months to come, but I am hopeful that if changes come our way in liberal arts, they will come after extended discussions and careful planning."

In a separate, recent email to KRHD News, Oberhelman elaborated that he does not have any knowledge of the contents of the MGT report and that to his understanding, the report will be shared with the Texas A&M family by school leadership.

Oberhelman stressed that he does not want his faculty to be distracted by potentially unfounded fears.

"As I wrote, I do believe that there will be changes coming to Texas A&M," Oberhelman said in a statement to KRHD. "But that is the nature of all institutions, as well as businesses and governments: change often is good and needed, especially in light of new circumstances, new priorities, and new ideas."