The decision to close a degree or certificate program requires substantial planning and careful consultation with all those affected. Every effort should be made to inform everyone affected as fully as possible about the conditions leading to a decision of such importance, and all available information should be shared. As the immediate interests of current students and faculty are most directly affected, their present and future prospects require sensitive and timely attention and involvement. The university teach-out policy aims to protect the interests of students and faculty and to satisfy the requirements established for the university by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) during this process
In accordance with Federal regulations, the University is required to submit a teach-out plan to MSCHE for approval if any of the following occurs:
- The institution notifies the Commission that it intends to cease operation entirely.
- The Commission terminates accreditation or the candidacy of an institution.
- The USDE notifies the Commission that it has initiated an emergency action against an institution or an action to limit, suspend, or terminate an institution participating in any Title IV, Higher Education Act program
- A State Licensing or authorizing agency notifies the Commission that an institutions license or legal authorization to provide an educational program has been or will be revoked
More specifically, if the University decides to close an educational program, or the entire institution, one of the following options must be followed:
- Execute a Teach-Out Plan. The teach-out option occurs when the institution "teaches-out" currently enrolled students; no longer permanently admits students to programs; and terminates the educational program or the operations of an institution.
- Develop and implement a Teach-Out Agreement. The teach-out agreement option occurs when the institution enters into a contract with another institution or organization to teach out the educational programs or program.
Both teach-out plans and teach-out agreements must include the following information:
- Dates of termination and closure;
- An explanation of how affected parties (students, faculty, staff) will be informed of the impending closure;
- An explanation of how students will be helped to complete their program of study with minimal disruption or additional expense;
- How faculty and staff will be redeployed or helped to find new employment; and
- If closing an institution: signed copies of teach-out agreements with other institutions, if any; and arrangement for the storing of student records, disposition of final financial resources and other assets.
The teach-out plan should make appropriate distinctions between undergraduate and graduate students as well as between prospective and currently enrolled students. The teach-out period and teach-out plan will vary by academic department and/or program and must be determined and approved in advance at all required levels, as specified under Responsibilities below.
The Dean (and relevant Department Chair) whose scope of authority involves an educational program being considered for termination shall inform and involve affected faculty and staff at the earliest possible stage of consideration. Once the decision to pursue closure of an educational program has been made, the Dean shall forward a proposal to the Provost. The proposal should be developed with the involvement of faculty and students as possible and should outline the:
- Nature of the program,
- Reason for termination,
- Number of students currently enrolled,
- Progression statistics of students in the program,
- Resources used to offer the program,
- Financial savings, if any, realized from the termination,
- Explanation of how any students enrolled in the program will be helped to complete their program,
- Assessment of whether any faculty will be adversely affected by termination, and
- Explanation of how affected individuals will be informed of the planned termination.
The Dean should be available to brief the Provost, and, in the case of the institution closing, the MSCHE Accreditation Liaison Officer of the pending decision. The Provost will work with the Dean to develop and coordinate presentations on the proposal to the President's Cabinet and the University Board of Trustees.
The Dean and Chair shall work to develop a teach-out plan (See Appendix A, "Teach-Out Academic Plan"), and implement the notification elements of the plan for students and faculty. Appendix B provides a general summary used to brief faculty and students as "Sample Student and Faculty General Communication Summary." Both current and prospective students should be notified as soon as practicable (See Appendix C and D for sample letters). The Dean is responsible for on-going monitoring and reporting on implementation of the teach-out plan. A monitoring report should be used to provide periodic reports to the Provost on the status of the teach-out. The monitoring report shall also be used to advise students of their progress in the teach-out. (See Appendix E, "Sample Program Monitoring Report.")
The Faculty Welfare Committee of the Senate shall review the initial proposal to terminate an educational program forwarded by a relevant Dean. The Faculty Welfare Committee will determine whether any faculty will be adversely affected by termination, and act to implement provisions in the University Faculty Guidelines. The Faculty Welfare Committee shall notify the Provost and help facilitate the Provost's presentation on the change to the President's Cabinet and the University Board of Trustees.
The Provost will insure the proposal for termination is brought forward for discussion by the President's Cabinet. The Provost will develop and coordinate the presentation on the proposal to the University Board of Trustees and work with the relevant Dean to insure all affected parties are notified on pending decision. The affected parties must include the faculty, students, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Studies, the Dean of Education, Business, and Human Services, the Registrar, the Office of Admissions, and the Office of Institutional Research. Once the President's Cabinet and the University Board of Trustees have approved termination of the program, the Provost will be updated periodically by the relevant Dean on the notification and approval process, and will receive periodic updates the relevant Dean on the implementation of the teach-out plan.