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Author: Suzanne Painter

There comes a time in the life of an academic program when it is no longer viable due to dropping enrollments, lack of faculty resources, budget cuts, changing external contexts, or other factors. When the decision is made to close a program, the department chair’s attention to planning will be vital. You will need to plan a timeline for action to make sure that your institution’s related services are synchronized with the program closure and that others affected by the closure are not caught off guard. More important, you will want to ensure that current students are not left adrift when faculty turn their attention to new programs. Here are some tips for department chairs closing graduate programs. Determine the institution’s processes for closing programs Close admissions Closing admissions is the first step to managing the program closure. Know your students and communicate with them Plan the class schedule As soon as possible, determine when and where you will offer the classes that enrolled students need to finish their programs. Communicate the schedule to students and let them know what will happen if they do not enroll in the classes. For example, you might say, “We are offering EDP 555 next fall on Monday nights for the last time. If you cannot take this required class for your degree, you may substitute EDP 556. If you cannot take either class before December 31, 2015, you will need to transfer to another degree program.” Track progress Keep records of the process you are following and when each step was completed. Save emails to students and colleagues so you can refer to them if necessary. The process will play out over time, and related issues will come up infrequently, so good records will provide important information when you need it. Suzanne Painter is an associate professor in the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University.