SF State merger condenses eight colleges into six

The ongoing budget crisis has now officially changed the academic landscape of SF State, as the University merges eight colleges into six in an effort to cut costs and hopefully save $2 million annually.

Students in the former College of Humanities and the College of Creative Arts are returning to find themselves now under the banner of the College of Arts and Humanities. Students from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences returned to find that their college no longer exists and their departments have been absorbed into other existing entities.

While colleges may not be physically moved, as most classes and departments are expected to remain in their current locations on campus, the effects may be felt on other levels.

Paul Sherwin, the dean of the newly formed College of Arts and Humanities, considers this the largest task for him professionally to date.

“We have more than doubled in departments this year,” Sherwin said. “There’s going to be a sense of apprehension between all the departments. There will be obvious concern on how they will function.”

Sherwin also acknowledges that the fear of the unknown will also be an obstacle when it comes to coping with the new college structure.

“Change is frightening for a lot of people,” Sherwin said. “It’s something we have to live with for a year before we’ll be able to get a handle of it. I don’t want to make changes until I learn more things about all the departments. I will have to adjust to them.”

The merger, which was announced as official July 1, was recommended by the University Planning Advisory Council, formed in December 2009, which was designed to find solutions to some of the fiscal challenges that faced the school.

Shawn Whalen, former chair of UPAC, said in an email “(The transition) is underway but it will be an ongoing set of tasks, especially in those units that are most effected by the changes.”

While functioning in these departments, Sherwin believes that this can streamline the effectiveness of smaller departments that usually worked in conjunction with others.

In terms of the number of classes, Sherwin said that they are the same in the college he oversees. While departments may shift availability of courses, the only immediate impact will be larger class sizes.

For students left wondering what it will say on their degrees, Sherwin asserts that there is nothing to be worried about.

“Their degrees will still be from the department they are from,” Sherwin said. “They will be degrees in American history or museum studies— not from Arts and Humanities.”