By Joe Wilson —
The U of L Chapter of the United Campus Workers of Kentucky (UCW) held a town hall meeting Sept. 9 to voice concern over Interim Provost Gerry Bradley’s plan to restructure the College of Arts and Sciences. About 15 members attended.
The town hall comes after Bradley first announced the restructuring of A&S during a faculty assembly call in January 2022. In March, Bradley established the A&S Strategic Planning Committee, a task force of 19 members that has been meeting to organize the changes to the college.
Since the announcement, confusion has hung over the provost’s restructuring plans.
Earlier last week, the UCW began circulating a public letter addressed to the university. Their demands include:
- No staffing, instructional, or departmental cuts.
- No departments be combined.
- If budgetary cuts are made, they should cut upper executive salaries, unnecessary capital projects, and abundant spending on athletics.
According to Elise Franklin, an assistant professor of European history and UCW leader who presented the town hall: “The goal of the town hall was to bring our members and interested community members up to speed about what has been happening with the restructuring over the course of the summer and to think through the internal logic that U of L was using in order to justify the restructuring and to pose the question: Do we follow this logic?”
UCW members are concerned an interim administration is embarking on the restructuring. Members say they worry that the temporary nature of the administration might lead to a rushed restructuring.
According to Franklin, “The fact that the provost wants to achieve this restructuring, or to at least have an answer on his questions posed about restructuring before December, says to me: What’s the rush? If we’re to embark on a reconsideration of the structure of A&S, and no one here is arguing that A&S is working perfectly, then this takes time.”
During the town hall, Franklin discussed concern restructuring could lead to department cuts. Franklin said, “We have not heard from the provost or the committee about any potential shutting of departments, so I don’t want to create alarm, but I do think it is important to raise the question of what protections do we all have as workers across departments that our jobs are safe.”
The Louisville Cardinal also spoke with Michael Cunningham, a professor of Communication who serves on the A&S Strategic Planning Committee, to learn more about the committee’s discussions. “We have not talked about combining departments, now what we have talked about is the idea of hiring divisional directors who will work specifically on increasing student credit hours, increasing programs, increasing collaboration across departments, interdisciplinary course, things like that.”
Cunningham emphasized there have been no proposals to combine or eliminate departments in the committee’s meetings.
Cunningham also hopes the committee will share more of its deliberations with the university community in the future. “We don’t have a lot to announce yet. We’re still working. There are just lots of moving parts,” he said.
The A&S Restructuring Committee will continue to meet and discuss their plans through the end of the semester. The committee plans to vote on proposals and hold town halls with the public in the next semester.
UCW reported after publication 40 members streamed the town hall on Zoom.
File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal //