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The document below contains draft procedures for the establishment, merger and closing of departments, divisions and similar entities within schools that the Senate Committee on the Faculty approved at its meeting on January 14, 2002 and published in Almanac February 12, 2002. It also contains draft language for the Statutes of the Trustees, Section 10.5, to clarify the Trustee's role regarding such changes. The draft procedures bring together in one place policies and procedures previously contained in the Handbook and in a Provost's memorandum. They make the same procedures applicable to the establishment and merger, as well as to the closing of departments, and to such actions with respect to divisions or similar entities in schools that do not have departments. Please direct comments to Dr. Barbara Lowery in the Office of the Provost by May 20, 2002. It is anticipated that final decisions will be made by the President and Provost with a view to implementation for the start of the coming fiscal year.

Proposed Revision to the Statutes of
The Trustees and The Handbook for
Faculty and Academic Administrators

January 14, 2002

[Approved by the Senate Executive Committee February 6, 2002; Forwarded to the Provost February 8, 2002]

Section II.E.14.

Procedures for the Establishment, Merger and Closing of Departments, Divisions and Similar Entities within Schools

According to the Statutes of the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, "Upon recommendation of the President and Provost, the Trustees may authorize the establishment, merging, or closing of departments, divisions or similar entities in schools that do not have departments." Subject to the statutes of the University, these procedures govern the establishment, merger and closing of departments, divisions and similar entities (hereinafter "departments") within the schools of the University.

Although the organization of a school into departments is an administrative decision, the dean should make a recommendation concerning the establishment, merger or closing of a department only after careful study and consultation with involved faculty inside and outside the school, including discussion in a meeting of the faculty of the school. The process leading to such recommendations requires special care in reviewing possible courses of action, special efforts to consult early and often with interested parties, and special sensitivity to the legitimate interests of faculty who may be affected.

A. Careful Study

  1. The decision to establish, merge or close a department should be based upon academic considerations and priorities as determined by the faculty as a whole or appropriate committees thereof. Accordingly, there should be early and meaningful faculty involvement in the process leading to decisions relating to the creation, reorganization or reduction of instructional and research programs.
  2. Schools having a departmental structure should have regular reviews of departments. Departmental reviews should be used to provide departments with timely notice of any shortcomings and the need for improvement and to provide school decision-makers with information essential to a sound evaluation of the department. Such reviews also provide formal and informal opportunities to alert departments to the school's plans. Departmental reviews should not be triggered by specific proposals for closing or making other adverse changes to a department. However, when a closing is being considered, there should be a timely external review.
  3. Faculty involvement must precede not only the ultimate decision to create, merge or close a department but also decisions made during the pendency of the issue that may influence its outcome (e.g., the suspension of student admissions into a program or department in the case of a contemplated closing).

B. Consultation

  1. Most, if not all, schools, and the University as a whole, have faculty committees charged with responsibility to review planning and budget decisions. Such committees should be involved in the process leading to decisions to establish, merge or close departments. However, such reviews are not substitutes for early and frequent consultation with the faculty of the affected departments themselves and/or with the faculty as a whole. Consultation should include the opportunity for thorough discussion at a meeting of the faculty of the school. Consultation also will require soliciting an advisory vote, in favor of or against the proposed course of action, from those members of the faculty of the school with voting privileges. Although such vote is advisory only, in most circumstances the dean should act in accordance with the advice received.
  2. Action to establish, merge or close departments within one school may have serious implications for the activities and resources of departments in other schools. At such time as a dean initiates consultation with the faculty of the school directly affected, he or she should send a communication to all other deans requesting that they bring the possibility of the action to the attention of their colleagues who may be interested and inviting comment.

C. Informing Departments of Recommendations to Close

  1. Given that department closings typically follow a protracted period during which the department in question receives limited resources, school administrations have ample time to explain the implications of such action for the future. Departments that are at risk should be so informed promptly and provided with a full, frank and detailed explanation of the reasons.
  2. Faculty members of a department facing closure must be informed well before a formal recommendation is publicly announced. At that time, they must be given information regarding their future at the University and the procedures the school has initiated to find a new University affiliation for them.

D. Academic Freedom

  1. Although decisions regarding departmental structure may be made for reasons that would not justify adverse action against an individual faculty member, ordinarily they do not for that reason give rise to an academic freedom violation. However, even if all appropriate review and consultation procedures have been followed, structural decisions concerning a department may present delicate and difficult questions of academic freedom.
  2. In cases where academic freedom issues appear to be raised, the dean should seek the advice of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility of the school (CAFR) or the Faculty Senate at a sufficiently early stage for that advice to be considered before the dean makes a recommendation.
  3. Aggrieved faculty members have the right to complain of the dean's action to the appropriate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 32, April 30, 2002


April 30, 2002
Volume 48 Number 32

School of Social Work selects three recipients for Excellence in Teaching Awards.
Robin Beck will succeed Jim O'Donnell at ISC when he leaves for Georgetown.
Virginia Clark leaves Penn for a newly created post at the Smithsonian.
Penn's Chaplain denounces hate speech.
The Bridge: Cinema De Lux comes to 40th and Walnut.
The Museum is preparing to open its new wing and courtyard to the community with several celebrations, tours and a new exhibition.
Retirement seminars for investors of all ages and at all stages of planning.
Procedures for the establishment, merger, and closing of departments, divisions and entities within schools.