Discontinuing academic programs is a disruptive decision, but potentially one of the most important a campus can make. Leaders struggle to make priorities among departments and programs that are not easily or frequently compared, and because program elimination is rare, most leaders have little experience. Resistance emerges from expected as well as unexpected places. Changing Course focuses on the process of eliminating academic programs and provides advice for leaders seeking to close programs and those seeking to prevent closures. The book gives an in-depth look at the decisions and leadership associated with program closures. It illustrates the processes of closing academic programs at four universities and draws insights across those cases. It highlights the role of shared governance in program closure and examines the criteria campuses use to identify programs. It also highlights points of effective and ineffective resistance. The insights can help leaders examine the need to close academic programs, craft sound processes, and ensure a lasting positive impact on the institution.
Peter Eckel is director, Programs and Initiatives in the American Council on Education's Center for Effective Leadership. His portfolio includes programs that focus on leadership, governance and institutional change.