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Guidelines for Program Redirection and Reorganization
DRAFT 10/25/01


Preface							

OSU must endeavor to bring the programs it offers into alignment with available resources to ensure the institution can attract and retain its faculty, maintain and enhance the quality of its offerings, and respond to the demands of research and education in the 21st century. Program redirection and reorganization are an appropriate response to this challenge. Opportunities to strengthen university programs, faculty-mandated changes in curriculum, expanding enrollments, and fiscal responsibility are among the forces that might drive such redirection and reorganization.

Program redirection is defined as any plan that proposes to change the scope and mission of a university academic program so that it is no longer recognizable as its previous form. Program reorganization is defined as any plan to restructure or combine one or more academic units or academic support units in such a way that budgetary oversight and accountability, reporting relationships within the unit(s), and/or relationships with the University as a whole are permanently altered.

Program redirection and reorganization require faculty consultation and should be undertaken recognizing the personal commitments made to the University by faculty, staff, and students. Any action to redirect budgets should follow criteria acceptable to the faculty, staff, and students of Oregon State University, including the Category I curricular approval process. This document provides a detailed framework for programmatic review whenever reorganization or redirection are anticipated. It emphasizes the fundamental importance of the University's mission, the primacy of its academic programs, and a commitment to excellence, academic freedom, tenure, affirmative action, and accountability.

Rationale for Faculty Consultation

The involvement of faculty at all organizational levels in the long-range planning and decision-making process in the redirection and reorganization of programs has a strong base in managerial and organizational theory. It also represents sound academic practice consistent with standards set by AAUP and other professional organizations. Another important aspect, of course, is morale. Rumors and misinformation can be a deterrent to productivity.

While the final authority to implement such changes rests with the President, the Bylaws of the Faculty Senate indicate that one of the objectives of the Senate is to "provide the means by which the administration may be apprised of representative opinion of the entire faculty." Furthermore, the Senate is to "provide the means through which any matter of general interest to the faculty, or pertaining to the institution may be brought to the Faculty Senate for discussion and appropriate action."

Process for Faculty Consultation

Normally, plans to redirect or reorganize programs should be developed by the affected units. Anytime plans are contemplated in the Central Administration, faculty should be consulted immediately. In fact, plans should not go forward without faculty consultation. Category I processes should be followed, culminating in review by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the approval of the plan by the Faculty Senate as a whole. A broad consensus among affected faculty should be obtained. If, however, consensus is not in place, the issues should come before the Senate for discussion and debate as part of the Category I process. The debate should be on the merits of the redirection or reorganization and focus on whether the planned changes are consistent with the missions and goals of the University as articulated in the University's Mission Statement.

In any program redirection or reorganization, priority should be accorded to maintaining and enhancing the quality of academic programs through talented faculty, well-qualified students, and dedicated staff. The University recognizes that certain disciplines, primarily the core liberal arts and sciences, are central to all universities and provide the foundation for the overall strength of university programs.

Strong academic programs depend, furthermore, upon effective and efficient support functions, including human resources and physical facilities (buildings, laboratories, and equipment) necessary to achieve and sustain the programs. The evaluation of reorganized or redirected programs should consider whether proposed changes are in alignment with available resources.

From time to time, plans to redirect or reorganize units may include the reduction or elimination of a specific program or department. In such cases, especially, but also whenever redirection or reorganization are contemplated, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee should be notified by the University President or Provost, and the Faculty Consultative Group (FCG) should be convened by the Senate President. The FCG will be composed of the Executive Committee itself, and the Chairs of the Faculty Senate's Budgets and Fiscal Planning Committee, the Curriculum Council, and the Faculty Status Committee. The Chair of the Ad Hoc group shall be the President of the Faculty Senate or, in that person's absence, the President-Elect. The FCG should have the ability to investigate the situation by calling in various knowledgable members of affected units. The FCG should recommend appropriate action to the Provost, who in turn should communicate the FCG's thoughts to the President, with whom final determination rests.

As much time as possible should be allowed for consultation whenever program reduction or elimination is contemplated. Thoughtful consideration of financial and/or resource deficits and appropriate faculty input, as required by Oregon Administrative Rules, require adequate time. Since State and/or university financial and resource problems usually arise over extended periods, solutions to these problems should be developed and faculty advice solicited before the problems become crises. If specific faculty positions are affected by plans to reduce or eliminate a program, the highest regard for the rights of affected faculty must be affirmed, including a commitment to excellence, academic freedom, tenure, and affirmative action.

A great university must support the principles of tenure and academic freedom. These help create a climate that engenders creative thought and unbridled expression. They serve the University by ensuring an environment necessary to attract and retain the best available faculty. Program redirection and reorganization plans that envision any reductions or eliminations of faculty must not abrogate the principles of tenure, academic freedom, or due process, which are essential to the stability, integrity, and excellence of the institution.

Oregon State University, furthermore, has a demonstrable commitment to affirmative action and educational opportunity with particular focus on hiring and retaining faculty and staff of color and women. Economic pressures must not compromise this commitment.

Definitions and Criteria

A. Definition of a Program

The unit of review for these criteria is a "program." A program is a unit, which has one or more of the following characteristics:

* has the word "College, " "School," "Department," " Center," "Office," "Institute," "Station," "Division," "Council," "Service," "Program," "major," "minor," or "option" as a part of its title;

* is headed by a person entitled "dean," "director," "chair," "head," "coordinator," "manager," "superintendent," or "leader;"

* is identified as a degree or certificate program in OSSHE listing of OSU programs;

* offers a degree, a certificate, or a credential;

* has a sequence of specific academic requirements;

* is an established distinct academic option or track within a large unit;

* has been approved as a distinct function or activity of OSU by the OSBHE.

B. Criteria for Program Redirection

1. Criteria Supporting Redirection

a. On a national level, the profession or discipline has changed

b. The proposal redirection provides a competitive advantage to the unit.

c. The viability of the unit is at risk without refocus of direction.

d. The program's scope is too narrowly focused and needs broader, perhaps interdisciplinary, focus or conversely the program scope is too broadly focused and needs tighter focus.

2. Criteria Contraindicating Redirection

a. The consolidation or transfer is sufficiently uncommon within American higher education so as to render difficulty in recruitment and retention of quality students and faculty.

b. The consolidation or restructuring would endanger the quality and/or accreditation status, where applicable, of one or more of the programs affected.

c. The programs, though dealing with similar subject matter, are substantially different in orientation, objective, or clientele.

d. The cost reduction of consolidation or transfer would be so modest as to make such reorganization rather pointless.


C. Criteria for Program Reorganization

1. Criteria Supporting Reorganization

a. Two or more programs have a substantial similarity or affinity of objective such that economics of operation or improvement in quality may reasonably be expected from their consolidation.

b. The clarity of the program's identity and function will be increased by transfer to or consolidation with another program.

c. The nature and function of the program is such that its support might appropriately be transferred in whole or part to grant, contract, user fees, or other state agencies.

2. Criteria Contraindicating Reorganization

a. The consolidation or transfer is sufficiently uncommon within American higher education so as to render difficulty in recruitment and retention of quality students and faculty.

b. The consolidation or restructuring would endanger the quality and/or accreditation status, where applicable, of one or more of the programs affected.

c. The programs, though dealing with similar subject matter, are substantially different in orientation, objective, or clientele.

d. The cost reduction of consolidation or transfer would be so modest as to make such reorganization rather pointless.

e. The program's reorganization would have a substantially negative impact on education and societal concerns to Oregon.

f. The program's reorganization would result in substantial loss of revenue currently derived from grants, contracts, endowments or gifts.


D. Criteria for the Reduction or Elimination of Programs

Reduction or elimination of existing programs is among the most serious steps an institution can undertake in redirecting or reorganizing itself. The following criteria, both supporting and contraindicating either eventuality, must be carefully weighed by the FCG, the Provost, and the President before any determination can implemented.

1. Criteria Supporting Reduction or Elimination of Programs

The following criteria will be applied in determining whether to recommend that a program be reduced. The criteria under 1) will be used to assist in identifying programs in which reductions may be feasible. The criteria under 2) will then be considered in determining which programs should not be recommended for reduction or elimination.

a. The program's contribution to the OSU missions of teaching,
research, and service does not justify maintenance of its present size.

b. The program is significantly larger than such programs found in OSU's comparator institutions.

c. The program is one that if reduced will not substantially impair the viability or quality of other OSU programs.

d. The program is one that normally would be expected to be accredited, but is not; or one which is exposed to a substantial risk of loss of accreditation. If the program is not appropriate for accreditation, the program has been deemed to be of a level of quality or size that raises questions concerning its viability or continuation.

e. The program is one for which the present and probable future demand is insufficient to justify its maintenance at existing levels of support. Insufficient demand may be indicated by significant decline in one or more of the areas over a protracted period:

1) in the number of completed applications for admission to the program;

2) in the student credit hours generated in lower division, upper division, and/or graduate level courses in the program;

3) in the number of students who complete majors or degrees in the program;

4) in the market demand for graduates of the program when programs prepare graduates for specific employment;

5) in the case of support and service programs, the level of demand for the service provided;

6) in the case of research programs, the level of research being conducted or the level of funding for the program.

f. The program's productivity relative to the University's investment in faculty, staff, equipment, facilities, or other resources has declined significantly without demonstrable enhancement of quality or redirection to other aspects of OSU's overall mission.

1) In the case of instructional programs, the following may be
considered to indicate a significant decline in productivity:

The average credit hours of lower division, upper division or graduate level courses taught per full time equivalent faculty declined significantly over the past five years relative to OSU enrollment trends, and are at their present levels below those prevailing in such programs at OSU's comparator institutions.

2) In the case of non-instructional programs, productivity shall, where possible, be measured in terms of units of output appropriate to the unit's mission.

g. The instructional productivity of a program is substantially less than the
average for OSU as a whole. The level of instructional and, where relevant, the mode of instruction appropriate to the program shall be considered, including particularly the average number of contact hours
carried by the faculty.

2. Criteria Contraindicating Reduction or Elimination of Programs

a. The program is one that objective evaluation indicates has achieved a national or international reputation for exceptional quality.

b. The program supplies significant instruction, research, or service that OSU is better equipped to supply than other organizations.

c. The program exists as a result of legislative statute.

d. The program is the only one of its kind within the state of Oregon or the region.

e. The program is an essential program for every university.

f. The program's elimination would have a substantially negative impact on education and societal concerns to Oregon.

g. The program's elimination would result in substantial loss of revenue currently derived from grants, contracts, endowments or gifts.

h. The program's cost is minimal relative to the tuition or other income generated by it.

i. The program represents a substantial capital investment in specialized physical plant or equipment that could not be effectively redirected to alternative uses.


 
 
 
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