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Senate OKs elimination of health professions

DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA President Peter Likins defends University budget cuts that have occurred through "Focused Excellence" yesterday during a faculty senate meeting at the James E. Rogers College of Law.
By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 5, 2004
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Faculty Senate approved the proposed elimination of the School of Health Professions and Medical Technology Program yesterday, bringing them one step closer to complete termination.

The eliminations were originally proposed in fall 2003 in accordance with Focused Excellence, a UA initiative aiming to strengthen certain programs in order to narrow the focus of the university.

UA President Peter Likins proposed the elimination because the School of Health Professions is the only school at the UA that is not part of an existing college.

Two undergraduate majors operate in the School of Health Professions: physiological sciences and the Medical Technology Program.

If the Arizona Board of Regents approves the elimination in November, the physiological sciences degree would be transferred to the Department of Physiology in the College of Medicine, while the Medical Technology Program would be discontinued.

The Medical Technology Program, also known as clinical laboratory science, focuses on gathering and analyzing body fluid, tissue and other specimen samples to assist physicians in diagnosis and treatment.

Anne Atwater, director of the School of Health Professions, said the changes would not have a negative impact on students, as the undergraduate major in physiological sciences "essentially has been functioning" in the Department of Physiology for many years, with most of its faculty and staff also working in the physiology department.

There are approximately 800 physiological sciences majors and pre-majors at UA, making it the second largest major on campus, said Eldon Braun, associate department head for physiology.

The Medical Technology Program at the UA has not accepted students for a year pending elimination, Atwater said.

All of the 28 students who were in the program at the time of the proposed elimination have since graduated, Atwater said. According to the 2003 elimination proposal, general staff and faculty in Medical Technology will not be transferred as they are on clinical, year-to-year appointments.

Atwater said if the regents pass the proposed elimination, no programs will exist under the School of Health Professions.

Faculty Senate also approved a change in degree title from a "Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a major in Physiological Sciences" to a "Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a major in Physiology" to accurately reflect the location of the major.

Physiological sciences majors are divided on the changes.

"I don't think it would make a whole lot of difference because it won't affect the classes I take," said David Addison, a pre-physiological sciences junior.

But Sherrie Bostic, a pre-physiological sciences freshman, said she got into the major because the title caught her attention.

"It doesn't have the same sound or feeling," Bostic said of being under the department of physiology.

Walida Murray, a pre-physiological sciences sophomore, said she would prefer to be under health professions as it sounds more oriented toward a health career than a science career.

But Braun said while the changes will not dramatically impact the physiological sciences students, he has mixed emotions about the elimination.

Braun, along with other faculty members, said he is concerned about the direction of the Focused Excellence initiative as it was recently coupled with 2 percent budget cuts, spread evenly across campus.

Over the summer, Likins announced budget cuts across the board of $6.2 million, or 2 percent, due to increases in health and retirement costs not covered by the state.

Although Likins said he "spent a great deal of time meeting with multiple constituents explaining where we are," faculty members are still concerned about the changes.

"I have been disappointed in Likins' leadership," Braun said. "You don't cut the good departments, cut the departments that are weak."

While administrators' "lips talk," said Faculty Sen. John Ulreich, a professor of English, their actions and inactions demonstrate a lack of value for certain university programs.

In a resolution by Faculty Senate's Committee of 11, members called the 2 percent budget cuts devastating and "a major step backward ... there is still no identifiable focus to the evolution of the University of Arizona."

But Likins said there is a "real need to invest strategically," as eliminations and mergers under Focused Excellence have been determined.

In other business, Faculty Senate discussed a proposal to restructure the university's Finance Committee and workgroups, which deal with issues ranging from tuition cost to faculty salary to new student recruitment.

However, Faculty Sen. Andy Silverman, a law professor, said he was concerned by the lack of faculty representation on the workgroups, and objected to a suggestion that faculty members be nominated for the workgroups by college deans.

"Faculty representative should at least be nominated by faculty," Silverman said. "Again, it's administrators deciding who should be on (those) committees."

Provost George Davis said the matter will be discussed tomorrow at the Core Finance Committee meeting.

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