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U of M considers combining 2 schools

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The University of Minnesota has announced that it might combine two schools into one – the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the College of Biological Sciences.

The U plans to create a task force to consider the new college, which would integrate faculty and staff from the two schools. The panel would seek input from a broad array of stakeholders, university officials say.

There's already some overlap between the two schools, university officials note. Instructors have worked together on research and teaching projects, the university newspaper Minnesota Daily reported.

And university officials note that this is a good time to consider a change – College of Biological Science Dean Robert Elde announced his retirement Wednesday, and the Ag school's Dean Allen Levine decided to step down in June. University officials will put off searches for two new leaders until they make a decision about the new school.

Elde told the student newspaper that merging the colleges would make it easier for students to use biological advances as they seek answers to the planet's agricultural, environmental and medical problems.

“It really puts the needs of our students first,” he told Minnesota Daily.

University President Eric Kaler backs consideration of a new consolidated college as part of a broader strategic planning process at the Twin Cities campus, U officials say.

Students will not notice any disruption in their schedules, majors or services in either college during the "exploration period," the university says.

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