DISCONTINUANCE OF ACADEMIC PROGRAMS

A. POLICY AND PROCEDURES FOR THE DISCONTINUANCE OF ACADEMIC PROGRAMS (Degree Programs)

Preamble

The California State University has set guidelines that campuses must follow in order to discontinue an academic program in EP&R 79-10, "Interim Policy for the Discontinuance of Academic Programs," (Dumke) and EP&R 80-45, "Clarification of Interim Policy for the Discontinuance of Academic Programs," (Sherriffs). These require the campuses to establish an orderly procedure for program termination to ensure that affected public and enrolled students are properly considered. EP&R 79-10 prohibits "any administrative action leading to the de facto or official discontinuance of an academic program before the Chancellor has commented on the proposal."  Furthermore, the CSU Academic Senate states, “The discontinuance or suspension of an academic program or the reorganization of academic units (departments, schools, colleges) bears directly on curriculum and affects the configuration of course offerings.  For this reason, as indicated in numerous documents, faculty bear primary responsibility for the process by which any action occurs and for the policy language affecting it” [Resolution AS-2634-03/FA (Nov. 13-14, 2003]

This document states the policy and procedures for the discontinuance of academic programs at Sonoma State University. An academic program is defined in this statement, as it is generally in the CSU system, as a sequence of courses leading to an academic degree. (Minors, options, concentrations, credential programs, certificate programs, and special emphases are treated in separate statements [see Part B 1 & 2 below])

1. Policy

Proposals for discontinuance of an academic program may be formally initiated by departments or schools, faculty members, school or university committees, or administrative officers of the University for consideration by the faculty through the Educational Policies Committee (EPC) of the Academic Senate. The Committee shall review discontinuance proposals in a timely manner and shall make recommendations to the Academic Senate on this issue. The Academic Senate shall give timely consideration to proposals and, if deemed necessary, refer them to appropriate faculty governance committees (e.g. Academic Planning Committee) for review.  The Academic Senate will then forward its recommendation to the President. In the event the President supports termination, he shall forward the recommendations of the Educational Policies Committee and of the Senate to the Chancellor for comments.  In addition,

  • Proposals for Graduate Programs:  Proposals for discontinuance of Graduate Programs will also be reviewed by the Graduate Studies Subcommittee of the EPC, which shall attend especially to the particular considerations involving graduate programs and the students in those programs.

In any case, program discontinuation should result from a deliberate process that considers relevant decision factors described in this policy.  It should not be initiated to address short-term financial crises or personnel shortages.  The Program Discontinuance Policy should be understood as an appropriate process for evaluating the vitality of a program when substantial concerns exist as to the program’s future viability.

Furthermore, if a program appears to be subject to de facto discontinuance—because of underfunding, insufficient faculty, or other inadequate support—departments or schools, faculty members, school or university committees, or administrative officers of the University may ask EPC for a consultative hearing in order to ascertain whether a proposal for discontinuance should be initiated.

No action shall be taken to limit enrollment into the program whose discontinuance is being proposed until reviewed by the EPC of the Academic Senate.  After the Chancellor comments, if the decision of the President is to discontinue the program, the Academic Vice President, the Dean of the School in which the program resides, and the Department Chair or Coordinator of the program shall establish a written schedule for the orderly phasing out of the program in order that enrolled students may earn the degree.
 
The determination to discontinue an academic program shall be based at all levels on consideration of the following factors:

  • The overall quality of the program.
    Program quality shall be assessed using evidence obtained from relevant sources, including the most recent Program Review conducted.  It should take into account the following factors:
    • Capacity and ability of the faculty to deliver current curriculum in pedagogically sound ways. 
    • Adequacy of resources available to deliver in a coherent manner sufficient breadth and depth of program curriculum
    • .Ability of the program to attract and retain well-qualified permanent faculty.
    • How the program’s standing and excellence in its discipline contributes to the reputation of the university.
  • The centrality of the academic program to the curriculum of the University.
    This aspect of the program should include a consideration of the impact of discontinuing the program on the General Education Curriculum and on other academic programs of the University. The availability of other programs at the University that provide similar or complementary educational experiences should be weighed.  This criterion should also address whether the university would continue to fulfill its mission if the program were discontinued.
  • Enrollment trends and numbers of degrees granted in the program, and the future prospects for these.
  • The needs of the service area and other constituencies.
    Consideration should be given to the presence or lack of the same program at other colleges in or near to the service area and in the entire CSU system. Diversity considerations should be weighed:  how will discontinuance of program affect constituency groups such as ethnic, professional, and industrial communities?

2. Procedures for Initiation and Consideration of Proposals to Discontinue Academic Programs

Recommendations for program discontinuance are to be made to the Educational Policies Committee of the Academic Senate and to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs. A copy of the recommendation should be sent at the same time by the proposer to the Chair of the Faculty, the President, and Dean of the School and the Chair of the Department in which the program resides. After due and timely consideration of this recommendation, EPC shall make a recommendation to the Academic Senate which shall in turn formulate in a timely manner a recommendation to the President on the matter.

a. Guidance for Proposers of Program Discontinuance

It is the obligation of persons proposing the discontinuance of an academic program to present a written recommendation containing information and numerical data to constitute a reasonable rationale for proposed action. The Chair of EPC should be available for consultation with persons contemplating making a proposal to discontinue an academic program; a preliminary discussion with the EPC or its Chair is recommended.

A recommendation should include the following information except when information is unavailable or inappropriate:

1.   Tabulations of the numbers of students recorded as declared majors in the academic program and the numbers of students receiving 'the degree granted in the program in each of the preceding five years.

If it is deemed that these data are insufficient to show the numerical impact of the program, it is recommended that enrollment figures in each of the required courses of the major for the past five years be included.

2.   Copies of recent evaluations of the program from the regular periodic university academic program review, off-campus consultants, accrediting agencies,  and student groups. If these evaluations are already available to members of EPC and the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs, the proposer(s) may, with the prior concurrence of the Chair of the EPC, just cite pertinent information from them.

3.   A specification of the lack of those resources, current or future, needed to sustain the program. This should include, when appropriate, information regarding the lack of adequate faculty resources, lack of proper facilities and equipment, of supplies funding, or of an adequate and adequately trained support staff.

4.   Commentary on the impact on service area and societal needs relative to the program over the next five to ten years supported by any available demographic or economic information.

5.   Commentary on the effect, if any, on the General Education curriculum or the curriculum of other majors, if the program is discontinued.

b. Preliminary Action by EPC

The Educational Policies Committee shall make an initial finding of whether or not the recommendation makes a sufficient case to warrant further consideration of the matter. If EPC finds that further consideration is unjustified, the Chair of EPC shall inform the proposer(s) of the program termination, the Chair of the Faculty, the Academic Vice President, and the Dean of the School and the Chair of the Department in which the program resides, of that finding. Subsequent consultation may result in EPC being requested to conduct a full review of the recommended program discontinuance.

c. EPC Procedures

EPC may utilize whatever procedures it deems appropriate for the consideration of the proposal to discontinue a program. However, these procedures must include open hearings to permit all affected or interested persons (including enrolled students) to comment on the proposed termination. EPC should solicit the participation in hearings or written comments by such persons. EPC may request additional information from the proposer(s) or seek information itself.

EPC shall submit its recommendation on the proposed program discontinuance to the Academic Senate with a copy to the proposer(s), the President, the Academic Vice President, and the Dean of the School and Chair of the Department of the program.

3. Procedures for the Phase-Out of Discontinued Programs

After the President has received Chancellor's Office comments on a proposal to terminate an academic program, if he decides to terminate it, the Academic Vice President and the Dean of the School and the Chair of the Department in which the program resides shall prepare a written schedule for the orderly phasing out of the academic program. This shall include notification of the Admissions Office of a cut-off date after which no additional new or transfer enrollments are to be accepted into the program and notification of enrolled students of the mechanisms by which they may complete their degrees. Faculty threatened with lay-off as a consequence of the program termination should also be notified in accordance with university policy on faculty lay-offs.

In consultation with the Dean of the School and the Chair of the Department in which the program resides, the Registrar shall prepare an official list of all the students enrolled as of the cut-off date as majors in the program. The School Dean shall also prepare a letter notifying all students on the official list of the discontinuance of the program and providing the following information:

  1. The date by which the degree requirements must be completed in order to receive the specified degree from this institution;
  2. The last semester and year in which each course required in the major will be offered;
  3. The availability of closely related degree programs offered by this campus to which the student may wish to transfer;
  4. The availability of similar programs offered by other institutions in the geographical area;
  5. The extent to which transfer work, substitutions, etc., may be considered in meeting the requirements for the degree.

B. POLICY ON THE DISCONTINUANCE OF MINORS, CONCENTRATIONS (TRACKS), OR OPTIONS WITHIN A MAJOR PROGRAM.  ALSO RE CREDENTIAL PROGRAMS AND CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS:

1.  Proposals for discontinuance of a minor degree program or a concentration (or track) within an academic program may be formally initiated by departments or schools, faculty members, school or university committees, or administrative officers of the University for consideration by the faculty through the Educational Policies Committee (EPC) of the Academic Senate.  Proposals to discontinue minors must be reviewed by the department or unit in which the minor resides, the School, and EPC. EPC will decide whether hearings are warranted, and if so, the scope of such hearings. EPC will recommend discontinuance of minors to the Senate for final action. The School Dean will be responsible for developing a phase-out schedule to accommodate students currently enrolled. 

Minors and Concentrations can be especially susceptible to the effects of short-term financial crises, so their discontinuation by de facto discontinuance should be attended to by affected faculty, students, staff, and administration. If a minor concentration appears to be subject to de facto discontinuance—because of underfunding, insufficient faculty, or other inadequate support—departments or schools, faculty members, school or university committees, or administrative officers of the University may ask EPC for a consultative hearing in order to ascertain whether a proposal for discontinuance should be initiated.

2.  Proposals for discontinuance of credential programs or certificate programs should follow the procedures for minors and options.