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Faculty mergers approved by slim majority in Board

Merger plan passed with 6 out of 11 members majority. Dissenters pointed to lack of staff support, problems in implementation

Four faculties at the University of Copenhagen will be merged into two. This is now clear after the university’s highest authority, the Board, passed a highly contested plan in a dramatic vote a few minutes before 12 Thursday.

Six board members voted in favour of the proposal, three abstained, while two voted against.

The Board was to decide on a plan that merges the Life Science and Science faculties into one, the Health and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculties into another.

Split decision

The decision hung in the balance right up until the final vote, and ended up splitting the normally consensus-seeking Board into two sections, for and against. It was the majority support of five of the six external board members that in the end carried the vote in favour of the merger plan that was originally put forward by management last September.

Six voted in favour including Board chairman Nils Strandberg Pedersen and the externally appointed members Jørn Lund, Boel Flodgren, Peter Gæmelke, Jannik Johansen (voting in absentia), together with staff representative Hanne Foss Hansen.

The two staff members of the Board, Ingrid Kryhlmand and Niels Kærgård, voted against. Three members, the two student representatives and the externally appointed board member Claus Bræstrup, abstained in the final vote.

Should still be a pharma, life science university

In the run-up to the final show of hands which came after one-and-a-half hours of debate, those in support of the merger pointed to the long-term gains to be had from cross-fertilising research and ideas in the new merged institutions.

Supporters argued that co-operation with the business world would be improved, and that the restructuring of faculties would create a bigger and more dynamic environment. As a supporting member put it, »I have taken a good look at (management’s, ed.) rough draft for the merger, and I see more advantages to it than disadvantages«.

Another supporting member warned against the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Faculty of Life Sciences losing their identity and brand. He said that he supported the plan, provided that management would take steps to make sure that the University of Copenhagen remains a »pharmaceutical university and a foods science university«.

Staff, students not involved enough

Dissenters to the management plan questioned whether economic gains from the merger could be had at all, and whether the fact of staff and student resistance scuttled the merger before it came off the ground.

A dissenting member said that »the process is being perceived as a show process, and no matter how we vote today, we as a Board will have a large problem on our hands.«

Another dissenting member said staff and students had not been taken seriously since the September merger plan announcement. »Staff don’t agree with the plan, and so we can see what effect the staff involvement has had: The rough draft (for the merger, ed.) is still on the table.«

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