2.10 / Program Discontinuance

  1. Introduction

    Program discontinuance has already occurred at Wichita State University and has been necessitated by numerous environmental pressures on the University. Various economic, social, technical and educational demand trends may lead to further reallocation decisions of increasing difficulty as the University works to serve the interests of its publics.

    In 1977 the Wichita State University mission statement concluded that "Wichita State University can best serve its urban mission by being an excellent university." Excellence comes at the price of high investment of scarce resources and the University must use its limited resources in an optimal manner to achieve the greatest degree of excellence in its programs. A decision to discontinue a program must be recognized as a basic tool in the university's efforts to fulfill its mission.

    When faced with the necessity of program discontinuance, the faculty of Wichita State University must take a positive stance toward the issues involved. Any action requiring program discontinuance must be contained and directed in ways acceptable to the academic standards of Wichita State University.

    Discontinuance decisions, when necessary may often involve the redirection of resources to other programs. It is crucial that such decisions be made so that the ability of the University to fulfill its mission is significantly enhanced. Such decisions must be guided by a comprehensive statement of principles and procedures to ensure that the University's mission is, in fact, properly served, that decisions are based on bona fide long-term trends in the environment, that the well being of the current students is served to the greatest possible extent, and that the spirit as well as the letter of the University's tenure commitment to faculty is honored.

  2. Definitions

    1. Program discontinuance

      "Program discontinuance" at Wichita State University refers to the termination of an academic unit (college, department, division, center or school) in which a degree is offered. It may also refer to the termination of a specific or unique degree program with no other change to the academic unit which offers that degree program.

      Programs subject to discontinuance under these procedures are those listed in the "Degree and Certificate Program Inventory for Regents Institutions." By specific action of the faculty of the relevant college, concurred in by the University President, areas of emphasis or academic sub-specialties within existing degree programs may be considered as "programs" to be treated under this document.

    2. Teaching faculty

      The term "teaching faculty" refers to all unclassified personnel with the faculty rank of instructor or higher whose duties are 50 percent or more teaching and/or research and/or library services.

    3. Academic weeks

      The term "academic weeks" will be used to specify those periods of time, according to the University calendar, during which the University is officially in session (excluding Summer Session).

  3. Procedures

    1. Recommendations for the initiation of program discontinuance may be originated from any of several sources. Specifically, these would include the academic unit in which the degree is offered, the dean of the college in which the program is offered or the Provost.

    2. Program discontinuance will be the decision of the President of Wichita State University upon recommendation from the Provost. Decisions regarding program discontinuance will be made on the basis of bona fide educational considerations only and these decisions will be distinct from and unrelated to those based upon financial exigency.

    3. When an academic unit offers more than one degree program and less than the total unit is recommended for discontinuance, the faculty members of the continuing academic unit will not be considered for dismissal unless the unique or specific degree program discontinuance significantly reduces the resources, structure or performance of that academic unit or unless the faculty member is demonstrably unqualified for continued appointment in the continuing unit even following reasonable efforts at retraining. This determination would be made upon recommendation from the academic unit to the dean of the college or appropriate budget review officer.

    4. Proposals for potential program discontinuance shall be made in writing to the Provost. Such proposals will include identification of circumstances leading to the recommendation, a detailed rationale for the recommendation, a statement of the projected impact on the mission of the University and the academic unit, a statement of the projected impact on students and faculty of the academic unit, and a statement of the financial resources and faculty positions likely to be affected by the recommendation.

    5. The President and/or the Provost will provide confidential copies of the program discontinuance recommendation to the members of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. The President and/or Provost will meet with the Executive Committee to seek its confidential advice relative to the wisdom of proceeding with a review of the program discontinuance proposal. The President will also provide opportunity for the Associate Vice President and University Title IX Coordinator for the Office of Civil Rights, Title IX & ADA Compliance to provide advice on the effect of the proposed reduction on compliance with the University's affirmative action plan.

    6. If the President and/or Provost decide to proceed with the program discontinuance proposal, the Provost will transmit to the dean of the affected unit copies of the proposal with the request that the dean seek the confidential advice of a committee of all departmental chairs in the college about the wisdom of proceeding with the program discontinuance. The chair of the affected unit will be notified of the proposed action at least one academic week in advance of the committee meeting of the department chairs. The chair of the affected unit will have the option of meeting with the President or Provost. The dean will communicate the committee recommendation with his or her own recommendation back to the Provost.

    7. If the President and/or Provost decide to proceed with consideration of program discontinuance, the faculty of the affected unit will be notified first and a copy of the discontinuance proposal will be distributed to all members of the faculty of the college affected. Faculty members and students of the affected college will be invited to submit within two academic weeks written statements or arguments or rebuttal on the proposal to the college dean for distribution to the teaching faculty of the college. Within a period of not less than two academic weeks nor more than four academic weeks of the distribution of the written statement or rebuttal to the teaching faculty, the teaching faculty of the college shall be convened to vote its agreement or disagreement with the recommendation for program discontinuance. Absentee ballots shall be accepted. A copy of that action including the vote count shall be forwarded to the Provost, the dean of the college and the President of the Faculty Senate.

    8. At the next meeting of the Faculty Senate, the Senate President will report the proposed program discontinuance and the action of the college faculty on that matter. No Senate action is required but the Senate may, by majority vote, choose to record a position of agreement or disagreement with the proposed program discontinuance which shall be forwarded to the University President.

    9. The President of Wichita State University will evaluate the initial recommendation, the actions of the review bodies, the recommendation of the Provost and will, within four academic weeks, render a final decision regarding the recommendation for program discontinuance. If the decision is in favor of program discontinuance, the statement from the President will include a detailed timetable for the discontinuance action and a statement, with reference to all provisions of this document, detailing actions to be taken regarding the affected students and faculty. The statement must be distributed to the Provost and the dean, chair and faculty of the affected unit.

  4. Rights and Privileges of Students and Faculty

    1. The provisions of this section will apply to all program discontinuance actions regardless of the originating source. The Provost will make a public announcement of the discontinuance of the program and faculty representatives from the program shall contact all students who are enrolled in the degree program. No student should be admitted after the announcement has been made. Consideration of the impact on current students will be made to help them complete their degree program.

    2. After the public announcement is made, there will be a maximum of a three-year period of continuance to accommodate current students. If it is not possible for students to complete their degree programs within this three-year period, the University will make reasonable efforts to accommodate such students. Such efforts should include but not be limited to the following:

      1. permitting the student to complete his/her degree program by taking work in related departments;
      2. permitting the student to complete his/her degree program at another institution;
      3. making provisions in the case of graduate students for supervision of dissertations and administration of graduate examinations by faculty at other institutions; and
      4. honoring existing multi-year fellowships.
    3. For faculty members in the unit being considered for discontinuance, the written termination notice from the President must include the following:

      1. a statement of the basis for the decision to dismiss;
      2. a description of the manner in which the decision to dismiss was made;
      3. a disclosure of data on which the President relied; and
      4. a statement of the faculty member's right to respond to the dismissal.
    4. For faculty members holding probationary appointments, the notice of nonreappointment must meet the prescribed terms.

    5. The appointment of a tenured faculty member should not be terminated in favor of retaining a faculty member without tenure, unless there are extraordinary circumstances where a serious distortion of the academic program would otherwise result.

    6. Faculty on continuous tenured appointments who are scheduled for dismissal for reasons of program discontinuance will be retained as long as possible during the years in which their program is being phased out and will receive their full salaries with appropriate merit increases. During the time in which students in a discontinued program are permitted to compete their degree, tenured faculty will be continued in their previous duties or will, by mutual consent, be reassigned to other suitable positions within the University. Every reasonable effort will be made to find a position acceptable to the faculty member as well as to the unit to which the assignment is being considered.

    7. Addition of faculty relocated within the university will not displace present tenured or probationary personnel. The unit involved in the placement as well as the faculty member must participate in the decision-making process. If placement in another position would be facilitated by a reasonable period of retraining, financial and administrative support for such training will be proffered.

    8. If continued appointment of a tenured faculty member is deemed impractical due to significantly decreased student participation during the three-year phase-out period; and, if relocation is unreasonable, the faculty member will be assigned other duties for no more than 12 months. Early retirement or part-time employment should also be considered as additional options.

  5. Appeals

    1. A faculty member who receives written notice of termination for the reason of discontinuance of a program will have all the rights of due process as established in the Grievances Procedures section under Resolution of Internal Disputes.

    2. A faculty member who receives notice of termination for this reason may initiate review by making a written request to the Chair of the Rules Committee stating the grounds for challenging the decision to terminate.

    3. The administration must demonstrate initially that the decision to terminate was arrived at in accordance with established University policy as described in this document; the faculty member then bears the burden of proving the validity of his/her allegations of improper action.

    4. Grounds for the claim of improper action may include but are not limited to:

      1. failure of the University to follow established processes for determination of program discontinuance;
      2. incomplete or erroneous data in selecting the faculty member for dismissal;
      3. failure of the University to make a reasonable effort to place the faculty member in another suitable position;
      4. unfairness based on discrimination and/or principles of affirmative action.
    5. If a hearing is determined to be necessary, the specific procedures for the hearing are provided in the statement of Policies and Procedures for Processing Grievances of Faculty at Wichita State University under Resolution of Internal Disputes.

    6. In the case of a claim of unfairness based on discrimination and/or principles of affirmative action, procedures will also be those set forth in the Policies and Procedures for Processing Grievances.

  6. Revision Dates

    1. April 25, 2023
    2. August 22, 2023 (maintenance updates only)