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The University of Mary Washington's University Faculty Council is asking President Rick Hurley to reconsider hiring an outside consultant who would guide reallocation of funds within the school's budget.
The petition presented to Hurley this week arose from a meeting held by the UFC last Thursday to discuss the decision of the administration to bring in a consultant who would advise UMW how to "reallocate resources" to grow new programs.
The petition, signed by 96 faculty members, states that the collected faculty agrees with making UMW a premier liberal arts institution but does not believe that bringing in a consultant to review academic programs is the way to do so.
"We are not convinced that creating new programs would require an academic program review that could lead to eliminating existing programs," says the petition. "To date, no evidence has been provided to this effect. We are also not convinced that the enhancement of any existing programs justifies the elimination of another existing program."
The petition also states that they do not believe this is the time to bring in a consultant. UMW currently has an interim provost, Ian Newbould, and is searching for someone to fill the position. The school will also be entering a reaccreditation process through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2013. The faculty members urged Hurley to refrain from doing an institutional review until the new provost has begun tenure and feedback from SACS is available.
They also asked that the president engage a "legitimate faculty structure, elected by the faculty in accordance with the University and College handbooks, to study whether creating new programs and enhancing existing ones justifies an academic program review."
Debra Schleef, chairwoman of the UFC and of the department of sociology and anthropology, said she spoke to Hurley when she gave him the petition, "and indicated that although the document did not represent all faculty, it was a good way to make the concerns and preferences of a large number of the faculty known to him in a formal way."
Other UFC members represented the faculty at a phone meeting Hurley and a few administrators had with the consultant Tuesday, Schleef said.
"I appreciate Hurley's willingness to involve faculty leadership in this way," she said.
UMW spokeswoman Marty Morrison said the university will "thoroughly review any feedback, whether made via petition or any other means."
She said a comprehensive review of university programs has been planned for some time and that Hurley referenced it in his State of University address at the opening of the academic year.
The process will a collaborative one with strong faculty involvement, Morrison said. The consultant will develop a framework for the review, but will not decide the substance of it.
She said the study likely will continue through the expected arrival of a new provost next summer.
"By beginning the process now, we allow the institution to engage in information-gathering that will help inform and enlighten a new provost," Morrison said.
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