There appear to be two schools of thought among those opposed or ambivalent to the long investigated and debated merger of Macquarie U’s departments of environmental sciences and earth and planetary sciences. But some share a conclusion
Some senior staff question what the merger is about, beyond laying the foundation for cutting academic jobs. There are suggestions that the science faculty-wide voluntary early retirement scheme (CMM April 3) has not produced the expected number of takers and savings are required. And they wonder whether a merger will do much for improving research performance.
Other in the departments accept there is a research case for combining them and that a well-implemented merger could lift the university’s performance and prestige in disciplines involved. But they wonder whether if the intellectual infrastructure has been thought-through, including for postgraduates, who do not know if their supervisors will survive and what sort of support they will have for their work.
Overall, there is a sense that, despite it being long-planned a decision can now wait. Executive dean of the science and engineering faculty Barbara Messerle’s departure was announced a couple of weeks back and she is due to start in September as provost at the University of Sydney (CMM June 20). This does not leave much time for a merger to be made, one which might stick the new dean with a deal they do not like.