The University of Manitoba wants to slash the number of faculties it has by one-third, but some staff fear the changes could compromise academic integrity.

President David Barnard announced on Thursday that he is reducing the number of faculties from 20 to 13, in a bid to make the university more efficient.


University of Manitoba president David Barnard says he wants to reduce the number of faculties from 20 to 13 over the next five years. ((U of M))

Barnard said the duplication of work eats up too many staff hours, so his goal is to reassign staff to areas where they can be more productive.

"If we can find a way to allocate some of our colleagues' work to things that people are wanting to get done, versus some things that might be done in a more effective way, I'm hoping that they'll be enthusiastic about trying to find a way to make that happen," he told CBC News.

The changes will be made over the next five years, starting with health-related faculties, Barnard said.

Cameron Morrill, president of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association, said his biggest concern is with how those faculties would be affected.

For example, the faculties of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy could all be rolled into one big faculty, he said.

"Under this proposal, there would be one 'super-dean' who's got all five or six of those areas," Morrill said.

"I think we'd be nervous that maybe he or she wouldn't be as familiar with all six of them as a group of six would have been."

Matt McLean, who heads up the union representing sessional instructors and student academic staff, agreed that faculties like dentistry and pharmacy are highly specialized, so combining them could compromise their integrity.

"I don't really have a good idea of … how Barnard sees us meeting that reality, while at the same time trying to stream all those programs into one larger faculty," he said.

Barnard said he will consult staff as he makes the changes.