Strengthening Academic Program Viability through Strategic Development
Steps to Take if Program Closure is Threatened or Imminent
Programs need to respond vigorously to any implied or overt discussion of involuntary program closure or downsizing. The following are suggestions for actions to take in such a situation:
- Generate constant publicity and accept offers of help from alumni, families of clinic patients, and contracted partners.
- Enlist student support.
- Send mailings to alumni and former faculty.
- Have well-prepared department representatives at public forums.
- Write letters to everyone!
- Consider settings in which to hold meetings for public comment.
- Be prepared to dispute administration "facts" and "figures" when appropriate. Share information from the department budget committee or chair that outlines the department's financial value to the educational mission of the university.
- Collect letters of support from school districts, rehabilitation companies, and hospitals that employ program graduates, and document the positive difference that graduates are making in the community.
- Collect letters from families/patients who have worked with a program graduate and support the continued need for preparation of students, and share these with the administration.
- Contact colleagues in other institutions and organizations, such as:
- ASHA Academic Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org for data, information and letter of support from the Association
- Other discipline specific sources, including the CAA (e.g., by providing updates in annual reports to the CAA or in the reaccreditation application of expected changes).
A recent example of how a CSD program strategically and successfully prevented its closure is illustrated on the following Web sites, which were established as a way to communicate about, and rally support for, the Audiology and Speech Pathology program at the University of Tennessee:
Other helpful resources can be found in selected articles in such publications as:
In the event that a decision is reached to close the program, complete the following steps as part of the transition plan.
- Contact ASHA Academic Affairs via e-mail at email@example.com.
- Inform the CAA in writing of an impending program closure with specific circumstances and details.
- Collaborate with the university administration to develop a "Teach-Out" plan in accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.
A Teach-Out plan is a written plan developed by an institution that provides for the equitable treatment of students if an institution, or an institutional location that provides 100% of at least one program, ceases to operate before all students have completed their program of study. It may include, if required by the institution's accrediting agency, a Teach-Out agreement between institutions.
- Submit a plan and time line to the CAA for ensuring completion of the program by all current students that will ensure sufficient faculty and other resources to provide the curriculum, practicum experiences, support services, and advising needed to fulfill the program's mission and meet its obligations to its students.
- Provide evidence that all students have been informed of the program closure with a plan for assisting them in completing their program of study.