The decision did not come as a surprise. In late March, the Executive Board had announced that it was in favour of a merger. However, Victor Bekkers, the dean of ESSB, was still to issue his views on the merger at that point.
If the Executive Board has its way, the ‘administrative merger’ will be completed by the end of the current academic year. The university’s spokesman, Jacco Neleman, said that this step would not affect the two faculties’ organisations, degree programmes or staffing levels. Once the administrative merger has been completed, the faculties will design a new faculty in association with their staff and students, a process which is to be completed by 1 January 2021.
'Strengthening its position'
According to the Executive Board, the merger of the two faculties will result in the cluster of social and behavioural sciences and humanities ‘strengthening its position’ within the university. As the university’s press release put it, “The merger of the two faculties will allow EUR to create a strong faculty working in the fields of humanities and social sciences, with an ambitious, fact-based, interdisciplinary and distinctive agenda and a robust organisation.”
“The merger will have several benefits,” Neleman added. “A stronger faculty will be better able to promote itself in applications for research grants to be awarded by Brussels and will also be better able to attract foreign top academics. Moreover, [the merger] will make it easier for the lecturers to conduct interdisciplinary research and teach courses together.” However, the merger is financially motivated, as well. “The recommendation issued by Dymph van den Boom [ESHCC’s interim dean – ed.] shows that ESHCC is a vulnerable faculty. The merger is to result in a faculty that has a strong organisation as well as a sound financial position.”
The newly-to-be-established faculty has been given a provisional name: the Erasmus School of Humanities, Social & Behavioural Sciences(ESHSB). The Executive Board intends to invest up to €10 million in the new faculty.
It should be noted that the Executive Board’s decision does not mean that the merger between the two faculties is a foregone conclusion. A draft restructuring plan has been drawn up and submitted to the faculty councils of both ESSB and ESHCC for feedback. In addition, the plans have yet to be approved by the University Council and the EUROPA staff representative council.