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OF RECORD: Changes in the Handbook

Procedures for Closing Departments, Removal of Deans, and Moving from the Research Faculty to the Standing Faculty

The President and the Provost have approved and forwarded for publication three sets of changes in the Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators based on recent consultations with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

On page 46: Add II.E.8.a., below, and renumber the present II.E.8 to “II.E.8.b.” (reprinted further below for continuity).

University affiliation for them.

When informing the department of its decision, the school should provide a detailed and frank explanation. If the school’s administrators are confident they are acting on the basis of sound information, they should have little reason to withhold the reasons for these actions. If they are not confident, they should recognize the need for further deliberation before taking action.

Section II. E. 8.a. Procedures for Closing Departments

4. Academic Freedom

Universities exist for the creation and dissemination of knowledge. The decision to discontinue a department should therefore be based upon academic considerations as determined by the faculty as a whole or appropriate committees thereof. Accordingly, there should be early, careful, and meaningful faculty involvement in decisions relating to the reduction of instructional and research programs. Such involvement should precede not only the ultimate decision to close the department but also decisions made during the pendency of the closure issue that will have a strong bearing on its outcome (e.g., the suspension of student admissions into a program or department).

There are a number of general procedures that should be followed when a department closing is contemplated.

Department closure is typically predicated upon academic grounds such as the lack of fit with the mission of the school, which would not justify similar action against an individual tenured faculty member. A proposed closing alone does not give rise to an academic freedom viola- tion. However, even if all the appropriate review and consultation proce- dures have been followed, the closure, or threatened closure, of a depart- ment may present delicate and difficult questions of academic freedom.

There may also be a danger that a small, and therefore vulnerable, group of faculty members may be relocated, marginalized, or have their academic freedom impaired as a result of the dean’s personal hostility, or distaste for their political or philosophical views. Both administrators and faculties must be on guard against this.

1. Consultation

Most, if not all, schools, and the University as a whole, have faculty committees charged with the responsibility of reviewing planning and budgetary decisions. Such committees should be involved in decisions to limit the resources of departments or close them. However, such reviews are not substitutes for early and frequent consultation with the faculty of the affected departments themselves or with the faculty as a whole. The dean should take seriously the advice received in such consultations and, in most circumstances, should act in accordance with the advice.

Given that department closings typically follow a protracted period during which the department in question receives limited resources, school administrations have ample time to explain the implications of such actions for the future. If a department is deprived of resources because its performance is found wanting or its viability is otherwise questioned, administrators need to make the reasons clear and to avoid the temptation to attribute the decision to “hard times” or “scarcity of resources.” Resources are always scarce, and schools allocate them according to what they perceive as their best interests. Departments should be informed that they are at risk and given the reasons.

2. Departmental Review

All schools should have regular review of departments. Departmental reviews should be used to provide the department with timely notice of its shortcomings and the need for improvement and to provide the school decision-makers with information essential to a sound evaluation of the department. Such reviews also provide formal and informal opportunities to alert the department to the school’s plans. Departmental reviews should not be triggered by specific proposals for closing or making other adverse changes to a department. However, when a closing is being considered, the lack of a timely external review should prompt a more intense internal evaluation of the department.

3. Informing the Department of the Decision to Close

Faculty members of a department facing closure must be informed well before the formal recommendation of a closure is publicly announced. At that time, they must be given information regarding their future at the University and the procedures the school has initiated to find a new

In cases where academic freedom issues appear to be raised, the dean should seek the advice of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility (CAFR) of the school or the Faculty Senate at a sufficiently early stage for that advice to be factored into the decision. Aggrieved faculty members always have the right to complain of the dean’s action to the appropriate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility.

II. E.8.b. Transfers of Faculty Members or Termination of Faculty Appointment Resulting from Discontinuation of Programs

Where a faculty or school is discontinued for valid academic or financial considerations in accordance with University procedures, an attempt to relocate members of the Standing Faculty and the Associated Faculty within the University will be made. In considering any transfer of a faculty member from one faculty to another, the rights of the faculty as expressed in the Statutes of the Trustees shall not be impaired. The University’s obligation to those faculty members whose academic base has been terminated must be balanced with the considered opinion of the receiving faculty on the suitability of any transfer. The final decision on any transfer from one faculty to another is made by the Trustees on the recommendation of the president and provost.

Where a program or department within a faculty is discontinued for valid academic or financial considerations, in accordance with University procedures, the faculty concerned, and its dean, will attempt to relocate members of the Standing Faculty and Associated Faculty in other pro- grams or departments within the faculty. If suitable intra-faculty transfer cannot be effected, the possibility of transfer to another faculty will be pursued in accordance with the above paragraph.

If, after full exploration of the opportunities for transfer, no suitable appointment within the University can be found for faculty members affected by the discontinuation of a school, department or program, and if the continuation of their salaries would become an undue burden on the University, proceedings to terminate academic tenure under the financial exigency provisions may be implemented.

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ALMANAC September 5, 1995

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