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Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 2 - Faculty and Academics
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
Responsible Executive: VP for Academic Affairs


2.38 Academic Program Abandonment


I. POLICY STATEMENT


It is the policy of The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to provide institutional procedures for an in-depth review to inform and guide decisions concerning the elimination of academic programs or occupied academic positions. Such programs and positions may be eliminated for bona fide academic reasons or as a result of financial exigency. Approval must also be obtained from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) before a program in which students enroll may be abandoned.


II. RATIONALE


This policy provides guidelines and procedures for academic program abandonment, in accordance with the University of Texas System (UT System) Board of Regents’ Rules and Regulations Rule 31003, Abandonment of Academic Positions or Programs.  In addition to these other considerations, to be in compliance with federal law, students enrolled in the program to be abandoned must be given the opportunity to complete their studies.


III. SCOPE


This policy applies to all UTSA academic programs, faculty and staff.


IV. WEBSITE ADDRESS FOR THIS POLICY


http://www.utsa.edu/hop/chapter2/2-38.html


V. RELATED STATUTES, POLICIES, REQUIREMENTS OR STANDARDS


UTSA or UT System Policies or the Board of Regents' Rules and Regulations

  1. UT System Board of Regents' Rule 31003, Abandonment of Academic Positions or Programs
  2. UT System Board of Regents' Rule 31008, Termination of a Faculty Member
  3. UT System Board of Regents' Rule 40101 , Faculty Role in Education Policy Formulation
  4. UTSA Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP) policy 2.35, Substantive Change Procedures Required to Obtain SACSCOC Approval
  5. UTSA HOP policy 2.39, Academic Program Review
  6. UTSA HOP policy 3.05, Reduction in Force for Classified Employees

Other Policies & Standards

  1. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Substantive Change policy

VI. CONTACTS


If you have questions about HOP policy 2.38, Academic Program Abandonment, please contact the following office:

Accreditation Liaison, Office of the Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness
210-458-4706


VII. DEFINITIONS


Financial exigency: A demonstrably bona fide financial crisis that adversely affects an institution as a whole and that, after considering other cost-reducing measures, including ways to cut faculty costs, requires consideration of terminating appointments held by tenured faculty.

The Faculty Senate:  An elected legislative and deliberative body whose primary purpose is to represent the UTSA faculty. The Faculty Senate reviews and formulates policy and enacts legislation on all matters pertaining to the professional concerns, duties, standards, ethics, responsibilities, prerequisites, and work conditions of the UTSA faculty, as well as matters relating to academic freedom and equity for the faculty. The Faculty Senate acts to amend or approve changes to the Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP).

Program Review Committee: A committee of faculty from the college and department which includes at least two individuals not affiliated with the program proposed for abandonment to conduct a review of current program functioning.

Substantive change: A significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Under federal regulations, substantive change includes closing a program, off-campus site, branch campus, or institution.

Teach-out plan: A written plan developed by an institution that provides for the equitable treatment of students if an institution, or an institutional location that provides 50% or more of at least one program, ceases to operate before all students have completed their program of study. The plan may include, if required by the institution's accrediting agency, a teach-out agreement between institutions. This applies to the closure of an institution, a site, or a program. Teach-out plans must be approved by SACSCOC in advance of implementation.

Teach-out agreement: A written agreement between institutions that provides for the equitable treatment of students and a reasonable opportunity for students to complete their program of study if an institution or an institutional location that provides 50% or more of at least one program offered ceases to operate before all enrolled students have completed their program of study. Such a teach-out agreement requires SACSCOC approval in advance of implementation.


VIII. RESPONSIBILITIES


See HOP policy 2.35, Substantive Change Procedures Required to Obtain SACSCOC Approval, for a complete list of responsibilities.

  1. Program Review Committee
    1. Conducts a review of current program functioning.
    2. Submits a report to the Dean that includes the committee’s decision as well as written input submitted by interested parties or faculty whose position may be terminated due to program abandonment.
  2. Ad-hoc Committee on Faculty Termination
    Reviews proposed actions in cases where tenured faculty member's positions are eliminated.
  3. Department Chair
    1. With the Dean, appoints the Program Review Committee from faculty in the college and department and includes at least two individuals not affiliated with the program proposed for abandonment, to conduct a review of current program functioning.
    2. If tenured positions may be eliminated, works with the Dean to appoint an ad-hoc committee on faculty termination.
  4. Dean
    1. With the Department Chair, appoints the Program Review Committee from faculty in the college and department and includes at least two individuals not affiliated with the program proposed for abandonment to conduct a review of current program functioning. 
    2. Provides Program Review Committee with specific charge, including HOP policies 2.35 and 2.38.
    3. Reviews Program Review Committee report and, if applicable, ad-hoc committee on faculty termination report. 
    4. Makes a recommendation regarding the program proposed for abandonment.
    5. Submits Program Review Committee report and, if applicable, ad-hoc committee on faculty termination report and makes recommendation regarding program abandonment to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (Provost) and to the Faculty Senate or Graduate Council if the program is at the graduate level.
  5. Faculty Senate
    1. Reviews the Program Review Committee report and the Dean's recommendation.
    2. Provides recommendation regarding program abandonment to the Provost.
  6. Graduate Council
    1. Reviews the Program Review Committee report and the Dean's recommendation.
    2. Provides recommendation regarding program abandonment to the Provost.
  7. Provost
    1. Reviews Program Review Committee report, Dean’s recommendation, Faculty Senate recommendation and, if applicable, ad-hoc committee report on faculty termination.   Issues final recommendation regarding program abandonment along with names of any faculty whose positions are to be terminated, to the President.
    2. Notifies affected faculty member(s) upon approval from UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
  8. President
    1. Reviews Program Review Committee report, Dean’s recommendation, Faculty Senate recommendation, Provost recommendation, and if applicable ad-hoc committee report on faculty termination.
    2. Determines when to eliminate academic programs or occupied academic positions, with or without financial exigency. When elimination is determined, the President is responsible for the following actions:
      1. Issues decision to eliminate an academic program through a statement including a rationale.
      2. Issues additional notification to the Faculty Senate Chair, Department Chair and impacted faculty in instances where program abandonment will result in tenured faculty termination.
      3. Forwards recommendations, if program abandonment is recommended, to UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for review and final approval.
  9. UTSA Accreditation Liaison
    Submits a letter of notification to the SACSCOC immediately following the final approval from UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs to close a program.

IX. PROCEDURES


  1. Procedure for Abandonment of Academic Positions or Programs for Academic Reasons
    Deadline extensions for steps outlined in Section A, 1-4 must be approved by the Office of the Provost. Deadline extensions for steps outlined in Section A, 5-8 must be approved by the Office of the President. These deadlines shall be monitored by the Office of the Provost.
    1. The Office of the President, through the Office of the Provost, shall notify the Faculty Senate, the college Dean and the Department Chair of the academic unit in which the affected program resides of the proposed elimination of academic positions or program abandonment pending review.
    2. The college Dean and Department Chair shall appoint a Program Review Committee. Interested faculty members who support the position or program proposed for abandonment shall be provided with the opportunity to provide a written statement to the Program Review Committee.
      1. The committee's considerations shall be based on:
        1. A review of the most recent academic program review as outlined in HOP policy 2.39, Academic Program Review.
        2. An assessment of the impacts of the proposed actions on current and future students.
        3. The potential impact on the integrity and vitality of other academic programs in the university.
      2. All tenured faculty members whose positions will be eliminated by the proposed position or program abandonment will be provided the opportunity to provide written input to the Program Review Committee.
      3. The committee shall consider and may offer advice on alternatives by which terminations of tenured faculty members can be avoided or minimized and how the negative effects of any necessary terminations can be mitigated.
      4. The committee shall deliver its report and recommendations to the Dean within 120 working days of the committee’s receiving written documentation of its charge.
    3. Within 10 working days of receipt of the committee report, the Dean will forward both the committee report and his/her recommendations to the Faculty Senate or the Graduate Council for graduate programs and the Office of the Provost.
    4. The Faculty Senate or Graduate Council submits its recommendation to the Provost within 60 days.
    5. Because Program Abandonment represents a substantive change from the perspective of the SACSCOC, UTSA must do the following in accordance with SACSCOC’s policies:
      1. The UTSA Accreditation Liaison must submit a letter of notification to the SACSCOC immediately following the final approval from the UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs to close.
      2. If students are enrolled in the program to be abandoned, UTSA must provide a reasonable opportunity for students to complete their program of study.
        1. The institution must develop and submit to SACSCOC with the letter of notification, a teach-out plan if enrolled students will continue at UTSA, including a teach-out agreement if UTSA has arranged for another institution to allow enrolled students to complete their program there.
        2. Teach-out plans and teach-out agreements must be approved by the SACSCOC before the abandonment can be implemented.
      3. If no students are enrolled, information regarding the semester and year that the last students completed the program must be provided to the Accreditation Liaison.
      4. To ensure timely compliance regarding roles, processes, and significant timelines, HOP policy 2.35, Substantive Change Procedures Required to Obtain SACSCOC Approval, must be followed.
    6. When program abandonment may result in the termination of employment of tenured faculty members, the Office of the Provost shall appoint an ad-hoc committee on faculty termination to review the proposed actions.
      1. Ad-hoc committee membership:
        1. There must be a minimum of seven (7) faculty members on the ad-hoc committee.
        2. Four (4) of the members of the committee shall be tenured members of the UTSA faculty. The four will be appointed by the Provost from among a group of not less than eight faculty nominated by the Senate.
        3. Ad-hoc committee members may hold administrative positions.
        4. The names of the ad-hoc committee members nominated by the Faculty Senate shall be provided to the Office of the Provost within 10 working days of the request to the Chair of the Senate.
      2. The committee report shall be received by the Office of the Provost within 60 working days.
    7. The Provost shalll review all committee reports, program review report(s), and recommendations and issue final recommendations and rationale, along with the names of any faculty whose positions are to be terminated, to the Office of the President within 20 working days after receipt of all materials.
    8. Should the President decide to eliminate an academic position or program for academic reasons, a statement of decision including rationale shall be forwarded to the Office of the Provost and to the appropriate college Dean.  In those instances where position or program abandonment will result in tenured faculty termination, additional notification will be made to the chair of the Faculty Senate, Department Chair and to impacted faculty.
    9. The President will forward recommendations if program abandonment is recommended to the UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for review and final approval.  The date proposed for the termination of the program shall be no sooner than one academic year after the year in which the UT System Executive Vice Chancellor approves program abandonment.   
    10. Upon approval by UT System:
      1. Affected faculty member(s) will be notified by the Office of the Provost.
      2. The university will provide appropriate assistance to affected faculty members concerning available alternative employment opportunities, pursuant to Regents' Rule 31003, Section 2.11.
        1. Tenured faculty members will be asked to inform the Office of the Provost through the college Dean of the academic unit to which the faculty members were assigned in writing of any request for reassignment within UTSA according to applicable college and institutional policy.  Any request for reassignment must be filed in writing with the applicable Dean no later than 10 working days after receiving notification of program abandonment and position termination. 
        2. If reassignment within the college is not possible, affected faculty may request a meeting with the Office of the Provost to discuss possible reassignment within the university. The faculty member must provide prior notification of this request to the Department Chair and college Dean of the academic unit to which the faculty requests reassignment. The Office of the Provost, through the college Dean, shall notify the faculty member in writing regarding the outcome of these discussions within 40 working days after the meeting. Faculty reassignment may involve relocation into another academic program, change in title, duties and/or responsibilities and salary and/or tenure status. In no case will faculty be assigned into a different academic unit or receive of change of status without the approval of the college Dean and Department Chair of the receiving unit. In the event a reassignment is not possible, the faculty member will be informed in writing by the Office of the Provost through the appropriate college Dean and Department Chair of the outcome along with a rationale.
      3. In no case will the appointment of a terminated tenured faculty member extend beyond the date of program termination.  Prior to and for one academic year subsequent to termination, the affected faculty member shall have the right of “first consideration” among equally qualified candidates for any UTSA position for which official recruitment and hiring process is conducted and to which the faculty member formally applies.
      4. The faculty member may appeal for reconsideration of the termination decision related to abandonment of a program for academic reasons pursuant to Regents’ Rule 31003, Section 2.4.
      5. Any faculty member who is terminated pursuant to this policy will be informed of available employee benefits as usual for faculty withdrawing, terminating or retiring, pursuant to Regents’ Rule 31003, Section 2.10.  This information may be provided at any time before the scheduled termination and at least to the extent typically afforded other current and former UTSA employees.
  2. Procedures for Academic Positions or Program Abandonment Due to Financial Exigency
    When abandonment of academic positions or programs is the result of financial exigency, the procedure for the selection and notification of those academic positions that are to be terminated shall be governed by Regents' Rule 31003, Section 3.

  3. All classified staff members whose positions shall be eliminated by the proposed program abandonment will be processed in accordance with HOP policy 3.05, Reduction in Force for Classified Employees.

 


X. SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR INITIAL IMPLEMENTATION


None


XI. FORMS AND TOOLS/ONLINE PROCESSES


None


XII. APPENDIX


None