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brunswickannews

2 • Jan. 4, 2012 • Issue 15 • Volume 145

Troubled faculty sticks with five-department model

Alanah Duffy News Reporter After two town hall meetings and mixed reactions from students, faculty and staff, the University of New Brunswick’s engineering department has decided to remain a five-department structure. In October, Dean of Engineering David Coleman sent out an email proposing some changes within the department due to budget woes. At the last town hall meeting, held on Nov. 28, chemical engineering department chair Brian Lowry brought up the fact that the number of staff members working in UNB’s middle administration doubled between 1999 and 2009. “Most of the people who I’ve met on

that list are hard-working and qualified,” Lowry told the Brunswickan. “But, so are most faculty and we’ve been declining in number while they’re doubling. I find that appalling.” In the past 12 years, the engineering department has seen 10 faculty members retire and not be replaced. Lowry said that this is causing a lot of strain within the department. “The university is very slow to replace people who have been lost,” he said. “We’re right at the wire and programs will suffer and people will leave.” Lowry said that Coleman and the department should look at having the departments within the engineering faculty work together more and think about changing their approach to graduate

studies. Right now, each department has different regulations and requirements for its graduate students. In December, Coleman sent out an email that said that due to the strong desire to keep the current engineering structure, a representative group would investigate the challenges. Coleman told the Brunswickan that a task force comprised of internal faculty, staff members, and students would begin during the winter term. The group will look at issues regarding undergraduate studies, supporting graduate studies and research, and departmental administration issues. Coleman said a cost for the task force hasn’t been determined yet, but he will try to keep it minimized in lieu of the

budget crisis. Juan Carretero, a mechanical engineering professor, said the engineering department is not one that should be receiving a budget cut. “If you look at how much money the department of mechanical engineering alone generates, we bring money to the university,” he said. “Whether the entire faculty is self-sufficient or not, I am not sure. But, my estimate says yes.” A concern that Carretero voiced at the Nov. 28 town hall meeting was about the use of the engineering program fund. Every engineering student pays $1,000 a year for laboratory and classroom improvements, equipment, and resources. Carretero said that the $1 million brought in annually by students shows their commitment to their education and should not be used to help with the budget. “I think we should go by what was originally agreed by the students and faculty,” he said. “I think it was agreed at the time that it was going to be used only for faculty related matters.” Emily Cowperthwaite, president of the engineering undergraduate society,

said that students are receiving mixed messages from the indecisiveness of the department. “People are happy because a lot of them didn’t like the change, but now they’re wondering what else is going to happen,” she said. “We’ve been told that there’s an issue, but they’re not going to take the solution [first proposed]. So, what else are they going to do?” Cowperthwaite added that students are anxious to see what will happen in the winter term. “I’m most interested to see where the money’s going to come from,” she said. “I’m not necessarily happy or upset about the final decision, but it still remains that something needs to happen.” Coleman said the only criteria for failure in the engineering department is letting budget troubles hold the department back. “We’re engineers. We’re people who solve problems. Rather than just complain about the status quo, we’re going to come through this and be better coming out the other side,” he said. “Paralysis is not an option.”

Dean David Coleman. Andrew Meade / The Brunswickan

Issue 15, Vol 145, The Brunswickan  

Canada's oldest official student publication