By Joe Wilson — 

The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences is in an uproar after Interim Provost Gerry Bradley made comments expressing his intention to reorganize the college during a faculty assembly call on Jan. 28.

Bradley’s use of the word “reorganize” caused widespread confusion. Faculty members who attended the meeting claim that Bradley did not explain to what extent the college would change. At one point during the meeting, Bradley mentioned the idea of reducing the number of departments within A&S.

To clarify Friday’s announcement, Bradley sent an email to all A&S faculty on Feb. 1, in which he stated his plan to establish a Provost A&S Strategic Planning Committee, which will include five elected faculty members, five dean-appointed faculty and staff members and five provost-appointed faculty and staff members. The election of the five faculty representatives was scheduled to occur on Feb. 3.

Bradley’s email stated his goals in reorganizing the college, which include the fostering of greater interdisciplinary and curricular cooperation across departments, providing a greater sense of identity and better communication and enhancing the college’s strengths and distinctiveness.

The announcement left many A&S faculty members confused. They claim that Bradley’s email was too vague and the A&S faculty have requested a more detailed proposal from the provost.

Dr. Tracy K’Meyer, a Professor of History at U of L, explained her reaction to the announcement. “I think a lot of people came out of the meeting unclear where this idea is coming from, what’s initiating it, why are we focusing on it now.” K’Meyer noted that there are much more pressing issues, including the COVID-19 response and the new budget model, that the A&S still needs to address.

Additionally, A&S faculty have expressed concern over the rapid election process. In the past, faculty members have typically had at least one week to vote on committee nominations. In this case, they were given 48 hours notice. Many faculty members are hesitant to commit their time to a new task force when they have unanswered questions. Several faculty members circulated emails demanding that the elections be delayed.

On Feb. 2, College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Owen released a statement to the A&S faculty: “I have closely followed your responses to Provost Bradley’s memo yesterday on strengthening the college’s divisional structure, especially your call for slowing down the election of representatives for the Provost’s A&S Strategic Planning Committee, but also for greater clarity about the goals, process, and timeline. Please know that I share all your concerns.”

Later that day, the A&S the Committee on Committees announced that it is suspending the request for nominees for the Provost A&S Strategic Planning Committee until further notice.

Professor K’Meyer commented on her reaction to the news. “I was happy to see that because I think that that needed to happen. Somebody had to put the brakes on it.”

Owen and Bradley did not respond to a request for comment.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal