Revision to the Handbook for
Faculty and Academic Administrators
by the Senate
Executive Committee February 6, 2002
Forwarded to the Provost February 8, 2002]
II.E.14. Procedures for the Establishment, Merger and
Closing of Departments, Divisions and Similar Entities within
to the statutes of the University, these procedures govern the
establishment, merger and closing of departments, divisions and
similar entities (hereinafter "departments") within
the schools of the University.
the organization of a school into departments is an administrative
decision, the dean should make a recommendation concerning the
establishment, merger or closing of a department only after careful
study and consultation with involved faculty inside and outside
the school, including discussion in a meeting of the faculty of
the school. The process leading to such recommendations requires
special care in reviewing possible courses of action, special
efforts to consult early and often with interested parties, and
special sensitivity to the legitimate interests of faculty who
may be affected.
The decision to establish, merge or close a department should
be based upon academic considerations and priorities as determined
by the faculty as a whole or appropriate committees thereof. Accordingly,
there should be early and meaningful faculty involvement in the
process leading to decisions relating to the creation, reorganization
or reduction of instructional and research programs.
Schools having a departmental structure should have regular reviews
of departments. Departmental reviews should be used to provide
departments with timely notice of any shortcomings and the need
for improvement and to provide school decision-makers with information
essential to a sound evaluation of the department. Such reviews
also provide formal and informal opportunities to alert departments
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,
there should be a timely external review.
3. Faculty involvement must precede not only the ultimate decision
to create, merge or close a department but also decisions made
during the pendency of the issue that may influence its outcome
(e.g., the suspension of student admissions into a program or
department in the case of a contemplated closing).
1. Most, if not all, schools, and the University as a whole, have
faculty committees charged with responsibility to review planning
and budget decisions. Such committees should be involved in the
process leading to decisions to establish, merge or close departments.
However, such reviews are not substitutes for early and frequent
consultation with the faculty of the affected departments themselves
and/or with the faculty as a whole. Consultation should include
the opportunity for thorough discussion at a meeting of the faculty
of the school. Consultation also will require soliciting an advisory
vote, in favor of or against the proposed course of action, from
those members of the faculty of the school with voting privileges.
Although such vote is advisory only, in most circumstances the
dean should act in accordance with the advice received.
2. Action to establish, merge or close departments within one
school may have serious implications for the activities and resources
of departments in other schools. At such time as a dean initiates
consultation with the faculty of the school directly affected,
he or she should send a communication to all other deans requesting
that they bring the possibility of the action to the attention
of their colleagues who may be interested and inviting comment.
Informing Departments of Recommendations to Close
1. 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 action for the future. Departments that are
at risk should be so informed promptly and provided with a full,
frank and detailed explanation of the reasons.
2. Faculty members of a department facing closure must be informed
well before a formal recommendation 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 University affiliation for them.
1. Although decisions regarding departmental structure may be
made for reasons that would not justify adverse action against
an individual faculty member, ordinarily they do not for that
reason give rise to an academic freedom violation. However, even
if all appropriate review and consultation procedures have been
followed, structural decisions concerning a department may present
delicate and difficult questions of academic freedom.
2. In cases where academic freedom issues appear to be raised,
the dean should seek the advice of the Committee on Academic Freedom
and Responsibility of the school (CAFR) or the Faculty Senate
at a sufficiently early stage for that advice to be considered
before the dean makes a recommendation.
3. Aggrieved faculty members have the right to complain of the
dean's action to the appropriate Committee on Academic Freedom