Threatened Faculty Retrenchment

Handbook of Operating Procedures 2-2230

Threatened Faculty Retrenchment

University of Texas SealEffective January 31, 2014
Executive Sponsor: Executive Vice President and ProvostPolicy Owner: Executive Vice President and Provost
I. Policy Statement 

The president of The University of Texas at Austin (“University”), in consultation with the faculty, has the responsibility for determining when to eliminate occupied academic positions, when to abandon an academic program, or occasions when both may occur. Regents’ Rule 31003, "Abandonment of Academic Positions or Programs", will be interpreted in the light of Regents' Rule 40101, which gives faculty a “major role” in regard to “general academic policies and welfare” and related matters. This rule further assigns these faculty responsibilities to the faculty governance organization.

II. Reason for Policy 

To outline the procedures to be followed in the event of financial exigency that may affect academic programs, tenured faculty members, and faculty with current academic appointments.

III. Scope & Audience 

This policy applies to members of the general faculty and the president and his administration.

IV. Definitions (specific to this policy) 
V. Website (for policy)
VI. Contacts 
Contact Details Web
Office of the General FacultyPhone:512-471-5934Website:
VII. Responsibilities & Procedures 
  1. General Policy

Regents’ Rule 31003, "Abandonment of Academic Positions or Programs", calls for development of institutional procedures for an in-depth review to inform and guide decisions on these matters. The following are procedures for the University beyond those indicated in Regents’ Rule 31003.


Regents’ Rule 31003, "Abandonment of Academic Positions or Programs", will be interpreted in the light of Regents' Rule 40101 which gives faculty a “major role” in regard to “general academic policies and welfare” and related matters and in the light of the further provisions that assign these faculty responsibilities to the faculty governance organization and require the organization and procedures of the governance organization be set out in the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures ("HOP") and subject to governance review and approval.


  1. Abandonment of Academic Programs or Positions for Academic or Budget Reasons

An academic program under consideration for abandonment or an academic position held by a tenured faculty member or a tenure-track or non-tenure track faculty member before the end of a contract that is under consideration for elimination for bona fide academic or budget reasons should be reviewed in depth through a procedure determined by the president in consultation with the faculty. The president shall consult with the Faculty Council and the affected budgetary units to determine the most appropriate of the possible courses of action to be taken and the means of safeguarding faculty rights and interests, including tenure rights.


Upon determining the existence of the need to reduce academic programs or faculty positions, or both, the president, in consultation with the Faculty Council Executive Committee, shall appoint a Review Committee composed of faculty and administrative personnel to make recommendations to the president as to which academic positions and/or academic programs should be eliminated. The Review Committee will be composed of at least half faculty members including the chair of the Faculty Council. If for any reason the chair cannot serve, the Faculty Council Executive Committee shall designate a replacement.


Faculty in a program under consideration for abandonment, or faculty in academic positions under consideration for elimination, will be notified and afforded an opportunity to contribute to the review process.


Upon completion of the review process, a recommendation with supporting rationale shall be submitted by the Review Committee to the president for review and recommendation. If the president determines that an academic program shall be abandoned, the president will submit a request for approval with supporting documentation to the appropriate executive vice chancellor.


A faculty member who wishes to appeal for reconsideration of a termination decision shall make this request within 30 days of notification of termination. The hearing process shall proceed as outlined in Section D of this policy.


  1. Abandonment of Academic Positions or Programs Because of an Institutional Financial Exigency

Financial exigency is, as defined in the Regents’ Rules, “a demonstrably bona fide financial crisis that adversely affects the institution as a whole and that, after considering other cost-reducing measures, including ways to cut faculty costs, requires consideration of terminating appointments held by tenured faculty” (Rule 31003, 3). Whenever reason exists to anticipate the University is sufficiently threatened by financial exigency, declines in enrollment, or changes in educational needs to endanger the continuance of the University's obligations to faculty members with tenure or those on regular academic appointments, the president at the earliest date possible shall inform the Faculty Council and all potentially affected budgetary units of the problem.


Procedure For Eliminating Programs Or Positions

“Upon determining the existence of a financial exigency and the need to reduce academic positions or academic programs or both, the president . . . shall appoint a committee composed of faculty and administrative personnel . . . . At least one-half of the total committee membership shall be faculty members and at least one-half of the faculty members on the committee shall be appointed from recommendations submitted to the president from the [Faculty Council]” (Rule 31003, Section 3.1). The formation of the Exigency Committee shall include the general criteria the committee should apply in making its recommendations.


It is recommended that at least a majority of the faculty appointed will be tenured. Any appointed non-tenured or tenure-track faculty should be senior faculty with substantial experience in the University. The nominations should seek to represent the University as a whole, not just programs initially slated to be reduced or just those not so slated, and at least some of the faculty should have served on faculty governance review committees for recommendations on promotion and tenure for academic personnel. Unless otherwise specified, the committee shall complete its work in a period of time no longer than 60 days from the appointment of the Exigency Committee.


For Regents’ Rule 31003, Section 3.2 - Assessment of Academic Program, the Exigency Committee will provide a written report of its analysis of programs and recommendations. As stated in the Rule, “The committee will review and assess the academic programs of the institution and identify those academic positions that may be eliminated with minimum effect upon the degree programs that should be continued and upon other critical components of the institution’s mission. The review will include, but not be limited to, as relevant: (a) an examination of the course offerings, degree programs, supporting degree programs, teaching specialties, and semester credit hour production; (b) an evaluation of the quality, centrality, and funding of research activities; and/or (c) an assessment of the productivity, community service, and quality of clinical services (in relation to teaching, healthcare delivery, and scholarly activity).”


For Regents’ Rule 31003, Sections 3.3 - Review Consideration, and 3.4 - Tenure Preference, the Exigency Committee should recommend specific positions to be eliminated in its written report. The recommendations should be related to the Exigency Committee’s assessment of programs. If other officers of the University, such as deans or program chairs, are involved in identifying individuals whose appointments are to be terminated, the process for obtaining these recommendations should be described in the report. The Exigency Committee will have available the personnel records of those being considered including current curriculum vitas, recent annual reports, promotion committee reports and recommendations, and results of periodic performance reviews. It will have access to full personnel files. Faculty whose positions would be jeopardized by the proposed actions will be provided the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the Committee's review process, including the ability to respond in writing to the recommendations. A faculty member with tenure will be retained over a faculty member without tenure except in extraordinary circumstances in which such action would not be in the best interests of the academic, research, and clinical programs of the University.


“Upon completion of its review, the committee shall promptly recommend in writing to the president those persons who may be terminated, ranked in order of priority, with the reasons for their selection. The president shall, after consultation with institutional administrative officers as the president may deem appropriate, determine which academic positions are to be terminated because of the financial exigency and shall give the holders of these positions written notice of the decision” (Rule 31003, Section 3.5 - Recommendation).


  1. Procedure for Appeal

A faculty member whose position has been eliminated due to academic or budgetary reasons or institutional financial exigency is entitled to appeal that decision in accord with Regents' Rule 31003, Sections 2.4 or 3.7-3.8, as applicable.


Appeals must be made on the grounds that the decision to terminate the appellant as compared to another individual in the same discipline or teaching specialty was arbitrary and unreasonable based on the evidence presented (including claims such as, but not limited to, race or gender discrimination or violations of academic freedom). In the event of a financial exigency termination, the grounds for the appeal may also be that financial exigency was not in fact the reason for the initial decision to reduce academic positions.


HOP 2-2310, Part V - Formal Hearing Procedures, shall apply to the extent that they do not conflict with Regents' Rule 31003.


  1. Additional Notes

If appointments are terminated, the University will not at the same time make new appointments in the same subject area or specialization except in extraordinary circumstances where a serious distortion in the academic or clinical program would otherwise result.


A faculty member who is terminated shall be given a reasonable amount of time to close down his or her research and related facilities in a non-destructive way.


During this period of employment and for two additional years, the terminated faculty member shall have right to first consideration for any vacancies occurring in his or her field of teaching (Rule 31003, Section 3.6).


VIII. Forms & Tools 
XI. History 

Last review date: January 31, 2014
Next scheduled review date: January 2016
Previously HOP 3.16