Campus leaders say administrative changes in the Center for Advanced Study would not affect academic programs or its mission.
Under the plan, most CAS administrative functions would be absorbed by other units, but the multidisciplinary programs and special events it supports – such as the MillerComm speaker series – would continue uninterrupted.
"We can do it more efficiently. There are ways of making all of our campus operations more efficient," Peter Schiffer, the vice chancellor for research, told members of the Senate Executive Committee at their Nov. 9 meeting.
While there are no full-time faculty appointments connected to CAS, Schiffer said he had discussed the proposal with the CAS professors.
Schiffer was asked by members to give a detailed presentation on the proposed CAS changes at the Nov. 16 senate meeting.
Under the planned reorganization, CAS functions would be managed by a combination of the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and other campus departments.
Schiffer said the changes are more necessary now considering the building that houses CAS is slated for demolition by the university. He said the Office of the Provost is offering meeting and office space for the newly configured CAS at the newly renovated Levis Center.
Some SEC members questioned whether the changes to CAS should have been discussed more broadly across campus.
A resolution filed by Sen. Harriet Murav, a professor of Slavic languages and literature and a CAS associate, calls for "an open campus discussion of how CAS can lead a vigorous program of cross-campus initiatives while helping the university to manage its financial challenges."
The resolution has 12 other faculty member co-sponsors. It concedes that the CAS issue does not specifically fall under Senate Rule 13, which requires an extensive campus review process when academic programs are targeted for elimination.
"We're not changing the program, we're making an administrative change on how it's being staffed," Schiffer said.
Murav's resolution said the center is such a valuable service that a broader campus discussion should be undertaken to ensure it keeps operating at the same level.
"Public discussion by the duly elected members of the faculty is a good thing," Murav said.