Mount Allison loses its faculties
By Karena Walter
The engineering and education programs at a maritime school have been thrown to the sharks and it will take a mighty large lifeboat to save them.
Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick has terminated its one-year bachelor of education program and will phase out its engineering program over the next three years. The motion was passed by the university's Senate on Jan. 15 and will go to the Board of Regents for the final decision on Friday.
"It is certainly a huge disappointment," said Basil Favaro, education department head. "It is a particularly distressing time for the two departments and faculty members."
Supporters of the education and engineering programs are particularly unhappy with the administration's decision to introduce a motion to cut the programs after Senate had already defeated a similar motion in early December, by a two-to-one margin. The most-recent Senate vote was done by secret ballot.
There has been overwhelming support for the program across the campus and from alumni and graduates, Favaro said. "If the decision is implemented it's going to create a rift not only within the Mount Allison community but in the community at large." The program provides practice teachers to schools in southeastern New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Favaro said a lot of students come to Mount Allison specifically for their bachelor of education and the Senate decision fails to take into consideration those students planning on entering the program next year.
The 94-year-old engineering program will be phased out so students currently in the two-year program can complete their degrees. Unlike Western's engineering faculty which saw the loss of its materials department last year, Mount Allison cannot lose one part of its program because it does not offer separate areas of concentration. "It's all or nothing," said head of engineering, Peter Varma.
"Normally the expectation is that the Board rubber-stamps whatever is brought to it," Varma said.
"It's a reallocation of resources," said university president Ian Newbould. "Mount Allison has too many programs." He added the money saved will be divided up among other programs.
Education and engineering were chosen to go because they are both affected by external requirements and both need to be expandable in size. As well, both programs have a sufficient reduction of students and neither have met quotas, Newbould said.
"We can no longer get away with across-the-board cuts," he added.
This is the first time the university has tried to provide a long-term plan, said Brad Proctor, president of the Mount Allison Student Union. "It provides a lot of stability for academics."
There have been two types of reaction to the cuts on Mount Allison's campus, Proctor said. A vocal minority of education and engineering students have expressed dissatisfaction with the university's decision to cut their programs. But the larger student body is apathetic to issues that do not effect them or are glad their own departments have not been cut.
Dave Sharp belongs to the former. A student in the education program now, Sharp and his classmates are contacting members of the Board to try and convince them the program is worth saving.
Sharp added other programs may not be safe from cuts. "If you eliminate one department what does that say about other departments."