Academic Program Changes and Institutional Closures

March 2020 | 0 Comments  Average 5 out of 5

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UE has created five resources — a guide and four checklists — for higher education institutions confronting possible program changes, including potential closure due to financial struggles or unforeseen events such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The resources will help institutions understand how to act in ways that are procedurally proper, well-supported, and sensitive to the interests of multiple stakeholders — especially the institution’s students and employees.

Guide to Manage Risks Associated With Program Change is intended primarily for boards of trustees, presidents, or chancellors, and other officials who make overall decisions about program change. The checklists are designed to help institutions with more detailed planning for program changes. While institutions can take different approaches to these materials, the checklists may be more helpful to people charged with actually implementing program changes.

The first checklist focuses on general planning considerations applicable to all program changes. The other three each focus on a particular type of program change. Institutions considering a program change of any kind should refer to the General Planning for All Program Changes checklist and any other checklists that are relevant for their circumstances. Each checklist can be customized to fit an institution’s particular needs.

Checklists for Changes in Academic Programs

Prevention and Protection Podcast

In this episode of Prevention and Protection, Husch Blackwell attorney Ellen Babbitt discusses managing the risks of higher ed academic program changes driven by economic pressures; these range from eliminating majors to closing institutions.

Listen to the Podcast »


During this Q&A webinar, partners at Husch Blackwell address how higher education institutions can plan for and implement academic program changes driven by economic pressures – ranging from reducing or eliminating specific majors or programs to institutional closures.

View the Webinar »

“Program change” means changes to course offerings, program structure, or institutional control that may affect course offerings or employment of faculty, implicate shared governance procedures, and require regulatory approvals. “Program change” therefore may include consolidation of departments, elimination of minor or major programs of study, reduction or elimination of programs, elimination of schools within the still-existing institution, change of control of the institution (as in an affiliation, merger or consolidation with one or more other institutions), or closure of the institution and dissolution of the corporate structure.

These resources were written for United Educators by Husch Blackwell, a law firm with a national higher education practice. The lead authors are partners Ellen M. Babbitt and Lisa J. Parker. Contributing authors are partner Kate M. Leveque, consultant Lisa M. Hoskins, and associate Karen L. Courtheoux.


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