Guidelines for Review of the Establishment, Reorganization,
or  Discontinuation of Academic Organizational Units

The University Faculty Senate has a consultative and advisory role on the academic impact of proposals that involve the establishment, reorganization, or discontinuation of academic organizational units. The Senate Council acts for the whole Senate in this matter. The Executive Vice President and Provost of the University and the Senate Council have agreed that to obtain adequate information on any proposed change for purposes of review, a common format is desirable. It is further agreed that proposals will conform to the proposal guidelines below.

Proposal Guidelines
A. Proposal description and format. Give a brief description of the:

    1. Proposed action or change
    2. Rationale supporting the change
    3. Objectives of the change
    4. Problem(s) solved by the change
    5. Curricular implications of the change
    6. Faculty affected by the change
    7. Enrollment implications of the change
    8. Evidence to be gathered to assess the impact of the change

B. Describe significant relationships and anticipated impact of the proposed change on other academic units, locations, or campuses.

C. List consultations with faculty at the location(s) where the change, including those with program heads. Provide a synopsis of faculty and unit head views derived from consultations.

D. Indicate how faculty will be impacted. Include an explanation of how promotion and tenure issues will be resolved in the event that the unit moves up a level. Indicate how the distribution of standing and fixed term faculty will be impacted.

E. Provide a timetable for the proposal. The timeline should consider the implications of the change on the curriculum and how faculty will be affected.

F. Indicate whether the proposal will have implications for certification, licensure, accreditation, etc.

G. The current Unit Head shall provide to Senate Council an evaluation of a reorganized unit five years after the proposed change is implemented. The evaluation should provide an evidence-based assessment of the impact of that change (see #8 above).

Approved by Senate Council on January 14, 1986, and accepted by Provost and Executive Vice President William Richardson on 2/11/86. Item F was approved for inclusion by Senate Council on November 15, 1994, and accepted by Executive Vice President and Provost John A. Brighton on 12/6/94. Clarifying text was added to Items A-E and Item G in spring 2014. These revisions were approved by Senate Council on October 7, 2014 and accepted by Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas Jones on October 20, 2014.


1. Units can, under AAUP Principles, be discontinued for financial exigency, and would fall under Recommended Institutional Regulation 4c, or educational reasons, in which case they would fall under RIR4d. The relevant regulations are summarized in: http://www.aaup.org/report/recommended-institutional-regulation-academic-freedom-and-tenure.
2. For purposes of these guidelines, academic organizational unit is defined as academic department, academic division, school or college. General definitions of a variety of academic units are provided below as a guide.
3. It is the policy of The Pennsylvania State University to research the effect of actions and to make every reasonable effort to avoid changes on the part of the University regarding unit naming, semantic descriptions, program and course descriptions which may prevent the enrolled students and graduate alumna(ae) from qualifying for professional licenses and/or certifications. (Motion passed by the Board of Trustees, 9/16/94.)

Senate Council Review and Response

Upon receipt of a proposal involving the establishment, reorganization, or discontinuation of academic organizational units, review and response by the Senate Council will generally follow the guidelines given below:

A. In the spirit of the 1981 Senate action on establishing procedures for review of academic changes, the [60 to 90 day] Senate Council period for such review will begin at the first regularly scheduled Senate Council meeting subsequent to the receipt by the Senate Chair of a formal proposal for an academic change drafted in accordance with the 1986 Guidelines for such proposals (listed above). To allow for a full review period, proposals accepted at other than the August through January meetings of the Senate Council should be provided appropriate additional time for review, if necessary, in the judgment of Senate Council.

B. Senate Council action on proposed academic changes will take one of the following forms.
In accordance with our duties as prescribed in Bylaws, Article 11, Section I(d), it is the advice of Senate Council that:
1. The (proposed action) be implemented as described in the documents we have received;
2. The (proposed action) be implemented with the following adjustments or conditions;
3. The (proposed action) be implemented only if the following concerns can be resolved;
4. The (proposed action) not be implemented at the present time, or in the present form, in view of the following perceived difficulties;
5. We do not yet have adequate information to evaluate the (proposed action) and therefore request the following clarification before completing our evaluation.

_________________________
Adopted by Senate Council on November 24, 1987, and accepted by Executive Vice President and Provost William C. Richardson on December 11, 1987.


 Establishment, Reorganization, or Discontinuation of
Academic Organizational UnitsProcess Flowchart

As described below: Establishment, Reorganization, or Discontinuation of Academic Organizational Units - Process FlowchartProcess Overview:

  • Unit Proposal submitted
  • Consideration of implications for other units, locations, and University-wide programs
  • Consultation with Faculty and Heads of (a) proposing Unit and (b) related programs
  • Revised Proposal submitted
  • To Senate Council for advice
  • Input from Senate Committees on Faculty Affairs and Curricular Affairs
  • Revise document to address adjustments, conditions, or concerns and then resubmit revised Unit Proposal to Senate Council
  • Implementation advised by Senate Council
  • Transmitted to President for approval

Academic Unit Definitions

Attributes that differentiate kinds of units

  • Leadership (title, appointment type)
  • Reporting line of leader
  • Subordinate units
  • Offerings: curriculum (single or related disciplines), majors, courses
  • Employees: faculty (tenure-line and non-tenure eligible), administration, staff, affiliated faculty (faculty with another home unit)
  • P&T Review Process (does the unit have: a unit-level review committee composed of faculty from within the unit and a unique P&T process with published guidelines?)
  • Budget (internally allocated, externally generated)

Below are the typical characteristics of Penn State Units. Some existing units will not conform to these characteristics, but in order to foster consistency across the university, the lists below should serve as a guide for assessing unit changes.

College

  • Leadership: Dean (academic administrator with faculty appointment) or Campus Chancellor
  • Reporting line: Executive Vice President and Provost and/or Vice President of Commonwealth Campuses
  • Subordinate Units: Schools, Divisions, Departments, Centers, Programs
  • Offerings: curriculum (multiple disciplines), multiple majors, courses
  • Employees: faculty, administration, staff
  • P&T Review Process: college review committee; unique and published process
  • Budget source: internally allocated and externally generated

School

  • Leadership: Executive Director/Director (academic administrator with faculty appointment)
  • Reporting line: Dean or Campus Chancellor
  • Subordinate units: none or departments and/or programs
  • Offerings: curriculum (single or related disciplines), multiple majors, courses
  • Employees: faculty, administration, staff
  • P&T Review Process: school review committee; unique and published school P&T guidelines
  • Budget source: internally allocated and externally generated

Division

  • Leadership: Head (academic administrator with faculty appointment)
  • Reporting line: Campus Chancellor
  • Subordinate units: none, departments, and/or programs
  • Offerings: curriculum (multiple disciplines), multiple majors, courses
  • Employees: faculty, administration, staff
  • P&T Review Process: division review committee; no published P&T guidelines unique to the division, but some divisions have varied requirements
  • Budget source: internally allocated and externally generated

Department

  • Leadership: Head
  • Reporting line: Dean
  • Subordinate units: none, centers, and/or programs
  • Offerings: curriculum (single or related disciplines), one or a few majors, courses
  • Employees: faculty, administration, staff
  • P&T Review Process: department review committee; no published P&T guidelines unique to the department, but some departments have varied requirements
  • Budget: internally allocated and externally generated

Institute

  • Leadership: Director (academic administrator with faculty appointment)
  • Reporting line: Dean or multiple Deans when interdisciplinary
  • Subordinate units: none
  • Offerings: varied
  • Employees: affiliated faculty, administration, staff
  • P&T Review Process: none
  • Budget source: externally generated

Center

  • Leadership: Director (academic administrator with faculty appointment)
  • Reporting line: Dean (or multiple Deans when interdisciplinary) or Department Head
  • Subordinate units: none
  • Offerings: courses
  • Employees: affiliated faculty, administration, staff
  • P&T Review Process: none
  • Budget source: typically externally generated

Program

  • Leadership: Head, Program Coordinator (academic administrator with faculty appointment)
  • Reporting line: Dean, School Director, Division Head, or Department Head
  • Subordinate units: none
  • Offerings: curriculum, major, courses
  • Employees: affiliated faculty, typically no dedicated staff
  • P&T Review Process: none
  • Budget: no separate budget