THE University of Newcastle has appointed Professors John Fischetti, Lee Smith and Liz Sullivan to lead its three new faculties or colleges, which will be consolidated from the existing five.
Vice Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky wrote to staff on Tuesday to confirm which faculties will merge, but said the name, design and form of the new structures is yet to be developed.
"This consolidation is a necessary step to improving efficiencies, addressing duplication and reducing operating costs," Professor Zelinsky said.
"Additionally, the consolidation provides us with the opportunity to think strategically about how our new structures will support the delivery of our Looking Ahead strategic plan."
National Tertiary Education Union Newcastle branch president Dan Conway said the announcement reinforced that "course cuts and faculty restructures were coming irrespective of any agreed cost-saving measures", which would have seen the union allow delays to staff salary increases in return for job security.
"Of immediate concern is the Vice-Chancellor's complete disregard for his consultation obligations under the Enterprise Agreements," Mr Conway said.
"The announcement today shows that a final decision has already been made, with faux consultation to follow.
"Genuine consultation is more than telling staff the decision you have taken and how it will be implemented, it obligates management to allow staff to express their views on the proposed change and seek to persuade management to adopt a different approach.
"There is not even any pretence in the VC's announcement, the decision is made, and for management that is the end of the story."
Professor Zelinksky told staff that from January 1, Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Education and Arts Professor John Fischetti will lead the new entity combining the faculties of Business and Law and Education and Arts.
Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Science Professor Lee Smithwill lead the new entity combining the faculties of Engineering and Built Environment and Science.
Interim Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Health and Medicine Professor Liz Sullivan will continue until the recruitment process for the role concludes, which is expected to be in September.
Professor Zelinsky thanked current Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Business and Law, Professor Tony Travaglione, and the current Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Professor Brett Ninness.
He said Professor Travaglione will work alongside Professor Kevin Hall to "shape and deliver our ambitious new Asia Pacific Strategy".
He said he had asked Professor Ninness to "draw on his substantial disciplinary expertise to lead the important work of merging the Electrical Engineering discipline into the School of Engineering".
"To ensure that the perspectives and experiences of all of our current faculties can be represented, I have asked all five current Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellors to work together with me to establish the design principles that will underpin our new structures," Professor Zelinsky said.
"We will move towards more uniform structures with clear and consistent responsibilities between schools and faculties, and we will implement a merit-based process where everyone has an opportunity to be considered for the new roles."
Professor Zelinsky told the Newcastle Herald the existing Pro Vice Chancellors will work together for the rest of the year.
"There is a lot of work to be done to bring our five faculties together into three - work will start in close consultation with staff," he said.
"The university's value proposition is strong. I am proud of our brand and the positive impact our institution has on our region.
"There will be no need to rebrand, and any minor adjustments to faculty naming will be managed in-house. We will continue to prioritise the support we offer our students in our marketing materials."
UON is also going through course optimisation process, which he said will save UON between $15 and $20 million.
The process will see it review every subject and offer a smaller number of subjects and degrees, based on student demand.
"Our course optimisation process is underway and being worked through at the local level with faculties," Professor Zelinsky said.
"We will advise staff of outcomes and next steps as part of our consultation processes."
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