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Policy on Creating, Restructuring, Merging, or Eliminating Academic Units (1999; Revised 2006 and 2010)

The College Policy Committee recognizes that the process of creating, restructuring, merging, or eliminating an academic unit, or changing its status (e.g. from department to program), is complex, and that many of the conditions or circumstances prompting proposals for such actions will be highly specific to individual cases. Although this Policy establishes procedures for the process, it offers only general guidelines for determining when such action is appropriate. The intent is to facilitate expeditious completion of necessary changes, but only with a full understanding of their impact on the faculty of the units affected, the College, and the University, because of the major and lasting consequence of such reorganizations on the direction of the academic mission. Thus, we caution against changes in the status of academic units, especially the elimination of units, if justification for such actions seeks primarily to solve short-term problems (e.g., financial need, personnel problems, or current political expediency). Academic units should be long-lived; hence, their establishment and status should also reflect long-term concerns.

This Policy complements existing policies that deal with some changes or reorganizations in units of the College, including

(1) Policy on Name Changes for Departments and Programs (1997; Reviewed 2006); (2) Policy for Faculty Initiated Transfers of FTE (1997; Revised 2007); and (3) Policy on Changing a "Program" to a "Department" (1997; Revised 2006).

Rationale for Creating, Restructuring, Merging, or Eliminating Academic Units.

Proposals to create, restructure, merge, or eliminate academic units, or to change the status of an existing unit, should be made only when that action is expected significantly to enhance the ability and capacity of the College and the University to perform their joint mission of education and scholarship. Factors to be considered in preparing recommendations to create, restructure, merge, or eliminate academic units, or to change their status, include issues related to disciplinary considerations, programmatic needs, the long-term viability of new units, or the basis for redundancy of a unit to be eliminated. A series of possible considerations are offered below as guides.

Disciplinary Considerations and Programmatic Needs:

  • What academic discipline would be represented by the unit? Is it well-identified? Is it declining or growing in its academic importance? Are other comparable institutions strengthening or decreasing their commitments to this discipline?
  • How would the proposed restructuring enhance the strength or efficiency of the present teaching/research mission? What evidence is there to justify this restructuring?

Long-Term Viability:

  • Is there likely to be a long-term need for such a unit that cannot be adequately or more appropriately accommodated within another program?
  • Are sufficient continuing resources available to provide a large enough full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty to conduct the teaching, research and administrative responsibilities of units impacted by the proposal, as now constituted?
  • Is there likely to be a future nucleus of senior faculty with greater than 50% FTE to provide a strong base for promotion and tenure recommendations? If not, how can such crucial recommendations most appropriately be made?


  • In the case of the proposed elimination of a unit, is there clear evidence that the unit can no longer provide valuable teaching, research and service? What has been the historical record of sustained contributions by the unit?

Procedures for Creating, Restructuring, Merging, or Eliminating Academic Units

Both unit chairs and the Dean of the College can initiate proposals for creating new units or changing the status of existing academic units. All units significantly impacted by the proposed change should submit position statements focused on a description of the rationale for reorganization (see below) to both the Dean and the College Policy Committee. All members of the faculty in these units, and the prospective faculty of a new unit, should be afforded an opportunity to express support for or objections to the proposal. When deemed appropriate, the Committee may extend the remonstrance to the entire College faculty. The College Policy Committee will review the position statements, as well as reports from internal and external review committees, and then recommend approval or disapproval of the proposal to the Dean. While unanimity is desirable, it is understood that all parties involved may not agree; the final decision for recommendation for action rests with the Dean.