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Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President

University Handbook, Appendix K:
Discontinuance of Academic Programs

Discontinuance of Academic Programs or Other Units with Tenured Personnel
(FSM 4-10-84, amended 5-3-84; BOR 3-15-85)

I. Considerations and Criteria in Selecting Programs for Discontinuance

  1. Relationship of discontinuance decisions to educational goals of university

    Kansas State University, as an institution with important missions in instruction, research, extension, and public service, sponsors a wide range of programs appropriate to the varied nature of its commitments. Just as programs are created from time to time in response to recognized needs, it sometimes becomes necessary to terminate programs. This may result from the reformulation of established educational objectives, modification of existing objectives, decline in quality of a given program without reasonable likelihood of restoration, reprioritization in view of long-range projections of demand or resource availability, or other reasons. In any of these events the integrity of the university will best be fostered through a prescribed program discontinuance policy based on a thoughtful and orderly assessment of performance capabilities coincident with our stated goals. Criteria used must reflect long-range judgments that the teaching, research, extension, and public service missions of the university as a whole will be significantly enhanced by the discontinuance. Program discontinuance should then reflect a methodical appraisal of long-term goals and resources required to attain them and should not be a response to cyclical or temporary variations in enrollments or finances. It is necessary to the maintenance of the academic quality of the university that proposed changes be evaluated in terms of their significance or the integrity of the academic commitments of the university as well as their consequences for faculty, students, and the public which the university serves.

  2. Criteria for discontinuance determinations

    The evaluation process requires:

    1. That each college or division have a statement on public file of its specific mission, and a plan which shows how existing programs implement the mission.
    2. That proposed changes are justified in terms of the following criteria for determining program or unit discontinuance:
      1. The centrality of the program to the missions and purposes of the university, including a consideration of the consequences of its loss.
      2. The quality of the program as determined by standards appropriate to the area; and, if not satisfactory, the prospects and costs of restoring it to a satisfactory level.
      3. The redistribution of resources (financial, personnel, and facilities) to programs of higher priority that could be achieved as the result of termination of a program or unit.
      4. The demand as shown by enrollments in the program or unit, services performed in support of other programs or units, and the general public need.

II. Program and Unit Discontinuance as a Basis for Termination of Tenured Personnel

  1. Program or unit discontinuance as a circumstance permitting the termination of tenured faculty

    The Board of Regents in 1947 adopted tenure principles identical to tenure principles in the 1940 AAUP statement on tenure. (See Kansas State University Handbook C71 and C78 for Board of Regents amendments.) Tenure is a continuous appointment, designated to protect the academic freedom of faculty, which can be terminated only in unusual circumstances and then after due process has been accorded the individual in question (Kansas State University Handbook C70-71). Reasons warranting termination are defined as " . . . for adequate cause, except in the case of retirement for age, or under extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies" (Kansas State University Handbook C72). The Board of Regents in its April 1982 meeting added "program or unit discontinuance" to the list of justifications for termination of tenured personnel, with the stipulation that " . . . the chief executive officer of each Regents institution, on consultation with appropriate campus groups, be asked to develop procedural statements to ensure consistent and fair application of this provision."

    This report presents a set of principles and procedures which if implemented would insure the consistent and fair application of this provision in instances where program or unit discontinuance is required and where it may result in the termination of tenured faculty appointments. It requires that actions resulting in termination of tenured faculty be restricted to bona fide academic programmatic planning determinations, be accomplished through a set of procedures which has the full participation of tenured personnel, and provides appropriate safeguards for their rights and for the institution of tenure in higher education. It is recognized that the Board of Regents has the authority to discontinue programs or units outside the provisions of Section III.A. of this report (as per the Program Review in the Regents' System, adopted by the Kansas Board of Regents December 17, 1982, and amended January 20, 1984). The Rights of Faculty Affected by Discontinuance Action (Section III.B.) of this document will be followed.

  2. Definition of units and programs eligible for discontinuance action leading to release of tenured personnel

    Programs and units which are eligible for discontinuance action consideration are defined as:

    1. Academic colleges, schools, or departments which are listed in the university budget or catalogs.
    2. University programs, either constituting departments or divisions, or within departments or divisions, which reflect recognized and established academic disciplines or research, public service, academic support, or administration units.
    It is necessary that discontinuance actions be distinguished from actions which are intended to reduce the size or scope of continuing programs or units. A program or unit as defined above would ordinarily be the budgeted entity to which the faculty member is appointed. The elimination of one or more levels of work or specialized fields within a program's or unit's discipline or area does not constitute justification for the separation of tenured personnel. In this event, desired faculty reductions could occur through attrition, through the release of non-tenured staff or, with their concurrence, through the transfer of tenured personnel to another unit. Termination of tenured faculty for reasons of program or unit discontinuance can be instituted only upon the elimination of an entire unit or program as defined above.
III. Procedures To Be Followed in Discontinuance Actions
  1. Conducting discontinuance investigations
    1. An investigation of the desirability of discontinuing a program or unit will be initiated only by request of the provost acting on behalf of the president.
      1. The investigation will be conducted by the College Committee on Planning of the college (or colleges) of which the program is a part. (Kansas State University Handbook, Appendix B.1. for definition of "college" and other related terms.) The Dean of the college will chair the committee as a nonvoting member. The head of the affected department or unit or the head's representative may sit in as an observer.
      2. For units of college level or equivalent the investigation will be conducted by FSCOUP.
      3. If FSCOUP determines that the CCOP was directly involved in the decision to recommend program discontinuance, FSCOUP will appoint a new committee from that college to conduct the investigation.
    2. The investigation will be conducted according to the following principles:
      1. The committee will deliberate on the basis of the criteria in I above.
      2. The committee will provide the head and faculty of the affected unit or program a reasonable amount of time to submit a response and an opportunity to be heard. The committee at its discretion may provide an opportunity for other interested and affected parties to be heard. The head also has the prerogative to invite interested and affected parties who can provide relevant testimony.
      3. The committee may recommend that the program or unit be discontinued, be strengthened and improved, or be left as it is.
      4. In the case that the committee recommends that the unit or program be discontinued, it must also indicate the number of affected faculty and students and recommend what action the university should take with respect to affected persons.
      5. The dean of the affected college will append his/her opinion to the committee report, stating whether and to what extent he/she agrees with the committee recommendation. If he/she disagrees with the committee recommendation, he/she should clearly state his/her reasons and arguments.
      6. The head of the affected unit and other affected persons may also append statements to the committee report.
      7. The report with appendices will be sent to the Faculty Senate Committee on University Planning. A copy will be forwarded to the Faculty Senate Academic Affairs Committee for formal review and comment. Prior to final recommendation. FSCOUP will review the report and these comments when determining the effect of the recommendation on the university as a whole, its mission, and its resources. Within a reasonable time, it will forward the report, along with its findings, to the provost for administrative action.
      8. The president will make the final decision on whether or not the unit or program will be discontinued.
  2. Rights of faculty affected by discontinuance action

    In the event of program or unit discontinuance, either by the procedures outlined in Section III.A. or by Board of Regents action, faculty shall be treated according to the following principles:

    1. Temporary faculty or untenured faculty who have already received a proper termination notice will be allowed to complete the period of employment in accordance with the terms of their contracts.
    2. Tenure track (but untenured) faculty will be given proper notice of termination (Cf. Kansas State University University Handbook, C150 and Appendix A). Where possible the university will offer to each tenure track faculty member affected another suitable position in a field for which his/her competencies are relevant.
    3. Wherever possible the university will offer to each tenured faculty another suitable position for which his/her competencies are relevant. If placement in another position would be facilitated, and the faculty member's performance potential in that position enhanced, he/she shall be offered and encouraged to utilize appropriate means at the university's disposal including financial and other support where available to improve his/her expertise or to change specialties.
    4. If no suitable position is available at the university, with or without retraining, the tenured faculty member may be terminated, with the condition that he/she be given a minimum of one year terminal notification, the terminal period to begin at the start of the following academic or fiscal year (academic year for nine-month appointee and fiscal year for 12-month appointee) respectively. Where a program is phased out over a period of more than one year and where otherwise feasible, the terminal notification period will be lengthened by one month for every year of Kansas State University tenure track/tenure appointment over six years, up to the length of the program close-out period. During the termination period, duties will be determined by the dean or other appropriate administrator in consultation with the faculty member and department/unit head.
    5. The faculty member shall have the right to appeal any decision affecting him or her to the General Grievance Board or the Faculty Discrimination Review Committee, depending on the grievance. The issues in such a hearing may include the university's failure to satisfy any of the conditions specified in this policy; except that a determination by the president that a program or unit should be discontinued will be final.
    6. All faculty, whether untenured or tenured, who are terminated will upon request be given a letter from the provost that expressly states that termination does not imply a negative judgment about the person's individual performance, but is due solely to the discontinuance of a program or unit. The provost shall offer to send letters of explanation and professional resumes on behalf of such persons and shall assist them in finding suitable placement elsewhere.

The university's missions of teaching, research, extension, and public service are defined in Sections C42-45 of the Kansas State University Handbook.

  1. For unclassified faculty with administrative tenure the committee is recommending that a General Administration Committee on Planning be established.
  2. For units of college level or equivalent the investigation will be conducted by FSCOUP.

Suitable position means a position which is acceptable to the faculty member and department or other unit to which the individual is assigned. Addition of faculty transferred from another unit should not displace present tenured personnel.