UA FACULTY HANDBOOK APPENDIX
APPENDIX N: Principles and Procedures for Merger or Discontinuance of Academic Units
The University's mission in teaching, research, and service includes providing a liberal education as well as advancing and disseminating highly specialized knowledge. However, to allocate its resources effectively, the University must from time to time merge or discontinue academic units (e.g., colleges, institutes, departments, programs) when they are no longer central to the institution's mission or when these units can be maintained only by using funds essential for units whose continuance is deemed more critical to the University's mission.
The University of Alabama Board of Trustees has responsibility for approval of the University's mission, role, and scope, and for the degree programs offered by the University. The Board delegates to the President responsibility for administration of the University and its programs of instruction, research, and service. Decisions to merge or discontinue academic units are the responsibility of the President. The President will seek the advice of administrators and faculty within the University in considering such decisions and will ensure that all faculty and staff who might be affected by merger or discontinuance of programs are consulted before a final decision is made and that the decision will consider the needs of current students. The President will base decisions to merge or discontinue an academic unit essentially on educational considerations that reflect long-range judgment that the overall educational mission of the University will be enhanced by the merger or discontinuance.
A standing committee called the University Committee on the Merger or Discontinuance of Academic Units (referred to hereafter as the Committee) will represent the faculty as a whole in cases where merger or discontinuance could result in termination of a faculty appointment (i.e., termination of an appointment with tenure or a probationary or special appointment before the end of the specified time).* Its function will be to determine whether merger or discontinuance of an academic unit would benefit the educational mission of the University as a whole. This determination will be based essentially on educational considerations similar to those that affect the President's decision and the recommendations by deans and the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs. Examples of factors that may be considered include program viability (based on demand for a program and the potential for growth), and the need to avoid duplication, or to effect economies in management, or to strengthen related programs. An academic unit's record of excellence will be a consideration in decisions regarding merger or discontinuation, but will not be the decisive factor.
The Committee shall consist of nine tenured faculty members who are not members of the University Mediation and Grievance Committee, with three members elected by the Faculty Senate, three elected by the Graduate Council, and three elected by the Council of Deans. The three persons elected by each group will serve staggered three-year terms, with a new member elected each fall semester for a term to begin at the start of the following spring semester.** No person elected by a group shall be a member of that group at the time of the election, and the Council of Deans shall not elect any person who is a current member of the Council of Assistant and Associate Deans. No two of the three serving members elected by a group shall be faculty members of the same college or school (other than the Graduate School). Members completing a term on the Committee are not eligible for reelection until two years have passed. The Committee elects its own chairperson from among its members at the start of each spring semester.
When the dean, after consultation with the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and any other appropriate deans or department chairs, believes it necessary to consider a merger or discontinuance of an academic unit, the dean shall proceed as follows:
III. ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
The University shall make every reasonable effort to provide other suitable positions for faculty members whose appointments are lost due to a decision to merge or discontinue a unit. Probationary faculty members, whose appointments are lost due to a decision to merge or discontinue a unit, may have their appointments terminated with appropriate notification. If placement in another position at the University for a tenured faculty member would be facilitated by a reasonable period of training, financial and other essential support for such training will be proffered. If no position is available within the University, with or without reasonable retraining, the tenured faculty member's appointment may be terminated. Notice of termination to faculty members will be provided consistent with policies published in the Faculty Handbook.
If the University is unable to provide suitable employment for a tenured faculty member who is displaced by the merger or discontinuance of academic units, the University shall provide at least one year of notice, or at least one academic year of severance pay. In determining the date of severance and the amount of severance pay, the University will consider the faculty member's service to the University, and will be mindful of the interests of the faculty members who are approaching eligibility for vesture in the retirement system or eligibility for retirement.
Any tenured faculty member whose appointment is terminated because of merger or discontinuance of a unit, or who believes changes in his/her assignments are tantamount to termination of appointment, and who questions whether the University followed the policy described in this document, is entitled to appeal to the University Mediation and Grievance Committee. This Committee shall function as a hearing committee and report its findings and recommendations to the President and to the faculty member involved. The hearing will be limited to questions as to whether the University has followed policy described in this document; the decision to merge or discontinue the unit shall not be at issue. The hearing need not conform in all respects to a proceeding conducted before a Hearing Tribunal (as described in the Mediation and Grievance policy), but shall provide the essentials of an on-the-record adjudicative hearing.
*The specified time for notification of termination of appointments for probationary faculty shall conform to requirements for notification of non-retention in the Faculty Handbook. Persons who have special appointments, appointments that are neither tenured nor tenure-track, are reviewed annually; continuation of such appointments depends on a record of satisfactory performance and on a continuing need for the services performed.
**The initial Committee will begin to serve when elected rather than at the start of the following spring semester and the terms of members will be extended accordingly. Each group shall assign terms of one, two, and three years to the three persons it elects to the initial Committee. The initial Committee will meet as soon as possible to elect its chairperson.