PULLMAN – WSU’s Faculty Senate unanimously approved an amendment to the Faculty Manual which spells out a timeline and process for how faculty will be notified if extraordinary circumstances require that a program be discontinued.
The new policy, approved at the Thursday, Feb. 10, meeting, becomes effective immediately because it already had been approved by the Board of Regents during their January meeting.
Simultaneous notice
Changes to Section III.F.3 of the manual require that “the Provost shall simultaneously provide a written notice of the proposed action to the Faculty Senate Steering Committee (FSSC), the Faculty Affairs Committee (FAC), and the dean and faculty of the affected program.”  The policy also states that the documentation used to make the termination decision be included with the notice.
After receiving notice of program discontinuance, affected faculty have 15 business days to submit a written response and any additional documentation for consideration. The policy also provides that a meeting of the Faculty Senate must be scheduled within 16 to 20 days of the initial notice so that affected faculty can present a response.  The Faculty Senate then has eight business days to submit written comments to the provost and the provost shall consider those comments before making a final decision.
Major improvement
Senator Cathy Claussen, who took a lead role in shepherding through the policy, said it is a major improvement because it provides a timeline for notification, stronger documentation and formal procedures for responding to any proposed terminations.
Claussen began working on a program discontinuance policy in 2009 after successfully defending her program, sport management, from a proposal that it be eliminated to help deal with a $54.2 million budget cut.
An earlier policy submitted to the Regents in spring 2010 was rejected.  The Faculty Affairs Committee crafted a new policy and submitted it to the Faculty Senate last fall. That policy was revised by the full senate, approved and forwarded to the Regents in November. At the January meeting, the Regents ended up approving the original version from the Faculty Affairs Committee. So, that version was sent back to the Faculty Senate for an up or down vote.
Take the money and run
“This is the best deal we’re going to get,” said Matt Carroll, a faculty senator. “We ought to take the money and run.”
Claussen said she would have liked to have seen the original version passed, but was satisfied that the current version affords faculty members more protection than they had before.
President commended
She commended President Elson S. Floyd for helping get the revision passed in the face of concern by the Regents.
According to Claussen, Floyd suggested that the Regents revisit the original proposal as crafted by the Faculty Affairs Committee. Faculty Senate Chair Max Kirk and Claussen were both contacted by the Regents during that meeting and after more discussion the Regents approved the policy with the stipulation that it would return to the Faculty Senate for an up or down vote—they would not consider additional changes.
The approved policy states faculty will be given the documentation the provost used to make his determination, but the rejected policy said the provost would make a “good faith effort” to use such documentation to make decisions about program discontinuance.