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Columbia Missourian

MU will accept new nuclear engineering graduate students, Deaton says

By Caroline Bauman
February 14, 2013 | 8:44 p.m. CST

*Chancellor Brady Deaton said he would open admissions to the university's nuclear engineering graduate programs. An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the graduate programs as belonging to the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute.

COLUMBIA — In response to a letter from the MU Faculty Council, Chancellor Brady Deaton said he would open admissions to the nuclear engineering graduate programs* and stated the curriculum of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute will not be changed within the next five years.

"I have no illusions these two actions will fully resolve the turmoil surrounding NSEI," Deaton said in a letter to Faculty Council Chairman Harry Tyrer. "We must find a way to shift the focus to what is best for the students and institution."

At the Faculty Council meeting Thursday afternoon, MU Graduate School Dean George Justice, College of Engineering Dean James Thompson and Provost Brian Foster defended the administrative decisions behind the move to restructure the institute in March. 

The proposed plan is to allocate all of MU's nuclear degree programs into the College of Engineering, Justice said, with the goal of creating a broader nuclear engineering program. The institute, which is currently housed in the Graduate School, cannot continue in its current form as an academic unit, Justice said. 

"We have an approval of broader nuclear programs on the way," Justice said.

According to Deaton's letter, all four faculty members in the MU Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute can continue teaching the courses of their choice for the next five-year period.

In his presentation to Faculty Council, Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Faculty Council member Sudarshan Loyalka said he and the three other faculty members of the institute were not involved in the discussions surrounding the decision to restructure the institute. He said he feels they have not been treated by administrators in accordance with the Collected Rules and Regulations. 

"This applies to all academic units," Loyalka said. "Transparency was absolutely missing in the actions against us, and trust was missing."

In accordance with the Collected Rules and Regulations, he said, a committee should be appointed that can review all of the information from both sides and make a recommendation in a thoughtful way. 

At the meeting in January, Faculty Council members requested to hear both sides of the issue before proceeding with a resolution to Deaton. After hearing both presentations, council members still had questions about why the online application to the institute was removed and whether administration broke the Collected Rules and Regulations in the restructuring process. 

"I could not in good conscience accept students into an administrative structure that had already been determined to go out of existence," Justice said. "We wanted to move students and the campus to a larger vision that I think the chancellor's letter lays out. It was closed until we had a structure to which we could admit students and be sure they could achieve success." 

Administration had not broken the collected rules in their decisions, Justice said. 

Now that the council has heard all sides, Tyrer said, it will try to help moderate this issue and move it forward.

"NSEI has legitimate concerns," Tyrer said. "The vision of the administration is good and big. It is to everyone's advantage to get this resolved." 

 Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.