FACULTY REDUCTION AND PROGRAM DISCONTINUATION
REDUCTION OF FACULTY DUE TO DECLARED FINANCIAL EXIGENCY
A critical element in any program to sustain and enhance the status of faculty is a clear prior understanding of the steps that would be taken to determine the existence of financial exigency and the procedures to be followed in accommodating this kind of institutional crisis. It is good to review these matters calmly in a period when no exigency exists and to do this in a manner that will eliminate as many problems and uncertainties as possible.
It is present institutional policy to so involve faculty and Board in all critical facets of fiscal planning and review without limiting the President’s responsibility for fiscal management, that the development of a financial exigency would not normally come up unexpectedly and unforeseen but would usually be clear to all as it developed. The regular involvement of the Faculty Budget Advisory Committee in the budget process should ensure that faculty are aware of the general and overall fiscal condition of the University. In addition, a faculty member serves on the Management Committee of the Board which passes on all proposed budgets and oversees institutional management. Also, a faculty member is elected to the Executive Trustees, which, among other duties, further reviews the institution’s fiscal condition. It is possible, however, that an unforeseen and unpredictable calamity could arise that would result in an immediate state of financial exigency and, therefore, specific procedures for dealing with such a possibility should be established.
In the event that Wittenberg should be seen to be entering such a state of its affairs that it may be necessary to consider a reduction in the number of faculty due to financial exigency:
- The President will present the necessary information to substantiate bona fide financial exigency to the Faculty Budget Advisory Committee, the Management Committee of the Board of Directors, and the Executive Trustees.
- It shall be the responsibility of the administration to make every effort to secure agreement from the faculty at a regularly called meeting that a bona fide financial exigency exists and that the decision has been arrived at in good faith.
- Only after completion of the steps named above will the Executive Trustees call upon the Board to declare a financial exigency to exist.
- Immediately upon notification to the faculty that the above steps have been complied with and a state of financial exigency exists, an ad hoc committee on Termination Due to Financial Exigency shall be convened. This committee shall consist of two of the elected members (tenured de facto) of the Personnel Board, chosen by that board; two tenured members of the Educational Policies Committee, chosen by that committee; and two non-tenured faculty members, chosen by mailed ballot of the faculty from a slate consisting of four probationary nominees presented by the Board of Elections. If possible the committee will include at least one representative each from the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. Membership on the committee shall be for the duration of the exigency. Vacancies will be filled by the original methods of selection.
- The committee shall be convened by the senior member selected from the Personnel Board. With the consultation of the Provost, the committee shall prepare recommendations for reductions in faculty. Primary concern shall be to minimize distortion of the academic program and to avoid jeopardizing North Central accreditation. Further guidelines are found below (Guidelines, item 3).
- The Committee on Termination Due to Declared Financial Exigency shall report its recommendations to the Provost, the President, and the faculty by March 1 in the regular budgeting process, or within thirty days if outside the regular budgeting process. After receiving the committee’s recommendations, the Provost and the President shall within thirty days report to the faculty their actions based on these recommendations.
- In anticipation of the possibility of faculty reduction due to financial exigency, the Faculty Personnel Board shall maintain a file of information about termination in financial exigency cases. This file should be made available to the ad hoc committee when and if it becomes active.
- No new appointments shall be made nor shall vacancies due to retirement or resignation be filled unless proof of overwhelming need is clearly demonstrated to the Committee on Termination Due to Declared Financial Exigency by the Provost after consultation with the chairperson and department concerned.
- The service of a full-time faculty member shall not be terminated until all part-time faculty in a program or department have been released, except in circumstances where a serious distortion in the academic program would otherwise result. The service of a full-time faculty member with tenure in a department or program shall not be terminated until all non-tenured faculty members in the department or program have been released, except in circumstances where a serious distortion in the academic program would otherwise result.
- If a decision to terminate must be made between tenured faculty members within a department or program, the primary determining factor shall be the impact on the academic program. Other determining factors shall include:
- Length of service at Wittenberg and teaching experience
- Excellence of preparation in the person’s field
- Effectiveness of teaching
- Scholarly and/or professional achievement
- Strong indication of promise for continued growth in professional life
- Evidence of capacity for making significant contributions to the department, the institution and the academic community
- In the event that it is necessary to terminate the services of a tenured faculty member, that person shall be given reasonable opportunity to redirect within that person’s or a related discipline, or to train for an administrative or professional staff position, if one is available.
- In the event that it is necessary to terminate the services of a faculty member because of financial exigency, the faculty member shall be given written notice at least one year prior to the date of termination of the contract. After such notice, the decision may be appealed to the Faculty Hearing Board on Academic Freedom and Tenure.
- If a tenured appointment is terminated because of financial exigency, the released faculty member’s post will not be filled by a replacement within a period of two years unless the released faculty member has been offered reappointment and has declined.
- For a period of one year after termination, or until such time as the terminated party becomes eligible for health insurance with a new employer, whichever comes first, the University shall provide health and major medical insurance equivalent to Wittenberg’s for the terminated party and the party’s family on the same basis as that fringe benefit was available to the faculty member prior to termination. If the terminated party qualifies for early retirement and enters the program, then the party shall be entitled to the health and other benefits of early retirement as set forth in the University retirement program in effect at that time.
- Unemployment benefits shall be provided according to the state-approved Wittenberg Plan. Employment listings and the services of the faculty secretary with correspondence relating to employment shall be provided by the University for up to one year following termination of employment.
DISCONTINUANCE OF PROGRAM OR DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATIONAL REASONS
Termination of an appointment with continuous tenure, or of a probationary or special appointment before the end of the specified semester may occur as a result of bona fide formal discontinuance of a program or department of instruction. The following standards and procedures will apply.
The decision formally to discontinue a program or department of instruction will be based upon educational considerations, as determined primarily by the Educational Policies Committee and the faculty as a whole. “Educational considerations” do not include cyclical or temporary variations in enrollment. They must reflect long-range judgments that the educational mission of the University as a whole will be enhanced by the discontinuance.
Before the administration issues notice to a faculty member of its intension to terminate an appointment because of formal discontinuance of a program or department of instruction, the institution will make every effort to place the faculty member concerned in another suitable position. If placement in another position would be facilitated by a reasonable period of training, financial and other support for such training will be offered. If no position is available within the institution, with or without retraining the faculty member’s appointment may then be terminated but only with provision for severance salary equitably adjusted to the faculty member’s length of past and potential service.
A faculty member may appeal a proposed relocation or termination resulting from a discontinuance and has a right to a hearing before the Faculty Hearing Board on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The issues in such a hearing may include the institution’s failure to satisfy any of the conditions specified above. In such a hearing a faculty determination that a program or department is to be discontinued will be considered presumptively valid, but the burden of proof on other issues will rest with the administration.
(By Faculty action, November 10, 1992)
What is the relationship between the program and (1) the Statement of Mission of Wittenberg University, and (2) the statement “The Objectives of a Liberal Education at Wittenberg?”
- How central/peripheral is the program to the goals posited in these statements?
- Will the institution’s ability to meet its educational mission be enhanced by the discontinuance of the program under review?
Standards of the Field
To what degree does the program meet or exceed the generally recognized standards for programs of its type? (Generally recognized standards could be those developed by professional associations and applied by its program consultants, or by accrediting agencies.)
- Do the program’s courses and co-curricular experiences provide students the educational opportunities deemed essential for the field of study?
- Is the department qualified to perform the tasks recognized as essential for programs of its type?
- Do the current facilities, equipment, and library support meet the standards of the field? Will they for the foreseeable future?
Success of the Program
To what extent has the program been successful in the recent past in meeting the goals set out in the University Mission Statement and Statement of Objectives, and in the program’s own mission statement? To what extent is it reasonable to judge that the program will be successful in meeting such goals in the future? Criteria for judging such success could include, among other things:
- Long term trends in general enrollment in the programs’ courses, and in minors and majors
- Ability of the programs’ graduates to proceed into appropriate postgraduate programs and/or career tracks
- Recognized accomplishments of both alumni and faculty relevant to the program under review
- Recognition of excellence by others within the field (see Standards of the Field)
- Recognition by Wittenberg colleagues of program’s present and likely future contributions to their own programs, and of negative consequences to these programs should the program under review be discontinued.
To what extent does the University have the human, financial, and other resources needed to sustain such a program? Such resources include, but are not limited to:
- Qualified faculty
- Qualified students
- Necessary facilities and equipment
- Sufficient library resources
Proposal for Review or for Discontinuance
The process will be initiated by a proposal to the Educational Policies Committee for review or for discontinuance of an academic program. Such a proposal could originate from a variety of sources, such as the department or program itself, from a special faculty task force, from the Provost or Provost’s staff, from the faculty as a whole, or from the Educational Policies Committee itself.
Action by the Educational Policies Committee
The Educational Policies Committee is charged with the responsibility to evaluate the program according to the criteria enumerated above and to formulate a report to the faculty.
- EPC will request that the program under consideration submit a statement regarding its perception of the program in relation to the four criteria for discontinuance.
- EPC will, at an appropriate time, inform the University community of the possibility of discontinuing the program and shall make arrangements for interested faculty, students, and staff to present their views to the committee either orally or in writing.
- EPC, or a body specifically given such responsibility by EPC, will examine the program in relation to the criteria for discontinuance, collecting such data as is necessary to make an informed judgment. EPC will invite the department/program to offer its own interpretation of the information collected. EPC will prepare a written preliminary assessment of the program, which it will then share with the program’s faculty. EPC will ask the program to provide a written response within a reasonable amount of time. The program will be given an opportunity to discuss the preliminary assessment in person with EPC.
- EPC will then prepare a report for the faculty summarizing its findings and indicating its recommendation, if any.
Action by the Faculty
The Faculty will receive EPC’s report before a general faculty meeting. A recommendation for program discontinuance must be voted on by the faculty.
Action by the Administration
Upon approval of a recommendation to discontinue a program, the Provost and other administrative staff shall make the necessary arrangements. Personnel action is expected to follow the guidelines in the Faculty Manual, “Discontinuance of Program for Educational Reasons.”