Council chair Jacko van Ast listed seven arguments in a letter to the Executive Board explaining why the council has issued a negative recommendation. To start with, the ‘abbreviated procedure’ proposed by the Board first calls for an administrative merger before exploring the consequences this would have for the organisation. The council feels such an approach is not suitable for a complex merger like the one at hand. Second, there is insufficient consideration for ESSB’s interests in ESHCC dean Dymph van den Boom’s recommendation. This recommendation is the basis for the Executive Board’s choice to merge the faculties. The council also feels that creating a ‘large, pluralistic faculty’ will result in major challenges for management, especially in light of the amount of effort the faculty put into the reorganisation that took place in 2015.
It’s unclear to the council how the merger will result in a more ‘robust faculty’, as the Executive Board claims. In a more general sense, the council felt that not enough information is available regarding a number of issues. For example, how many of dean Victor Bekkers’ demands will be granted? And then there’s the situation at ESHCC. According to the council, ESHCC is troubled by a crisis in trust. The council’s final argument is that there is a lack of support for the merger among employees at both faculties, with some even actively opposing the merger.
However, Van Ast does offer a solution to the Executive Board as a way of realising a merger. He proposes bringing together personnel from both faculties to think about the options for the future. This might still result in a merger and might even lead to implementing the abbreviated procedure. “The council isn’t against a merger in principle. We certainly understand the importance of a merger from the perspective of Erasmus University”, writes van Ast.
Even though the faculty councils have rejected the merger, they will still not be able to prevent it. In contrast, the University Council can vote down the plan, and the council will probably meet on 11 June to discuss the matter. It is unclear what will happen next if the University Council rejects the merger plan.