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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Liberal arts, sciences may face consolidation

Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver
Administration Building

To the tune of $600,000, Texas A&M hired a consulting firm to evaluate colleges and departments and has allegedly kept faculty in the dark about possible changes.
Faculty of the College of Liberal Arts were urged not to panic in light of rumors that colleges at Texas A&M will be consolidated or outright eliminated, according to an Oct. 5 email from interim Dean Steven M. Oberhelman. A&M President M. Katherine Banks will soon review organizational recommendations from MGT of America Consulting considering “liberal arts and sciences consolidation” and “cabinet-level reorganization” as part of Banks’ transition, according to a contract obtained by The Battalion through an anonymous faculty member. The faculty member was frustrated by a lack of transparency from Banks, who they claim said on multiple occasions the changes would not involve colleges, they said in an email to The Battalion.
“Let me assure you the scope of the MGT report is limited to administrative structured operations with the explicit goal of maximizing efficiency to direct more funds to our core purpose: teaching and research,” Banks said in the Sept. 13 Faculty Senate Meeting.
Rumors of consolidating and eliminating colleges are based in part upon wording from the contract, signed with MGT in June to conduct a “needs assessment” of academic and non-academic units, and of organizations like Human Resources, IT, Finance, Facilities and the Office of the Provost. MGT’s report will be delivered to Banks’ desk this week, who will then review the report over the next three to five weeks, Oberhelman said in the email to Liberal Arts faculty.
This report will be shared with the campus community; however, Oberhelman did not confirm when the report would be made public.
“I know you are stressed; I myself am anxious over what the coming months will bring,” Oberhelman said.
Although it is still unknown what recommendations MGT will make, as said by Oberhelman in the email, the agreement provides a summary of the undertaking’s scope and what actions will be assessed by the firm.
“MGT Consulting, in partnership with Martin+Crumpton Group, will provide the following scope of work to support President Banks’ transition and optimize the organizational structure and key functional units of the university,” the contract reads. “Total cost is $600,000 and the contract term is upon contract execution — Dec. 31, 2021.”
Phase 1 of the contract included a “Current State Evaluation” of the university through interviews and surveys with leadership, as well as the aforementioned recommendations for “cabinet-level reorganization” to be included in the written report Banks will receive. In making recommendations, MGT has conducted research on the “best practices” and leadership at other national universities. This phase is concluded as of June 30.
Leadership shake-ups in the past month alone have included the appointments of Associate Vice Chancellor Mark Weichold, interim Provost Tim Scott, acting Dean of Faculties Patrick Louchouarn and John Hurtado, interim dean and vice chancellor of the College of Engineering.
Phase 2 of the contract focused on gaining “staff and customer input” by interviewing faculty, staff and students and analyzing budgeting approaches and organizational structures, then making recommendations. This phase concluded Aug. 31.
Some of the assessments in Phase 2 were the “rumors” referenced in Oberhelman’s email, including conducting “analysis of national peer institutions with focus on budgeting approaches, liberal arts and sciences consolidation and shared governance structures,” Task 2.2 of the contract reads.
The non-academic assessments called for by the contract, as said by Oberhelman, include reviewing “needs for additional future phases of functional assessments (such as unit-level reviews of the HR, IT, Finance, Facilities and Provost offices to review staffing, resource allocation, processes, and systems to improve functional unit performance) [sic],” Task 2.7 of the contract reads.
The contract also mentions reviewing the “need for Faculty Affairs position and recommend position responsibilities and staffing requirement,” though Oberhelman did not mention this in the email to Liberal Arts Faculty Tuesday morning.
Phase 3 was dictated as an assessment of Liberal Arts and the Department of Marketing and Communications, according to the contract. MGT has previously reviewed A&M AgriLife, proposing measures to create a more efficient organizational structure, according to the consulting firm’s website.
“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,” Oberhelman said in the email.

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