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Program Reduction & Financial Exigency Declarations

Franczek has unique experience advising and representing academic institutions faced with the enormous challenge of academic program reduction, closure, affiliation, or merger.  Program changes are among the most serious and difficult risk management challenges faced by institutions of higher learning.  Our attorneys assist colleges, universities, and graduate programs in avoiding significant internal disruption and potentially significant liability in connection with financial exigency and program-related reductions and faculty terminations.  Our extensive counseling experience includes:

  • Investigating and advising decision makers about the appropriate procedures for considering and documenting a finding of financial exigency or a decision to reduce a program (and designing procedures when existing institutional procedures are absent or unworkable)
  • Advising decision makers about the appropriate procedures and legal risks associated with financial exigency declarations, decisions to close programs, and decisions to terminate tenured faculty or interrupt the studies of matriculated students
  • Working with financial analysts and governing board members to evaluate financial information and consider alternatives to discontinuing or closing programs
  • Developing plans, board presentations, resolutions, and talking points for faculty, student, human resources, and media relations personnel regarding decisions to reduce programs, close schools, or declare exigency
  • Communicating with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), accrediting agencies, and media outlets about closure and faculty termination decisions

We have also defended institutions and individuals in damage or injunctive actions challenging program closures; this experience includes:

  • Representing institutions and individual administrators in class actions brought by students and clinic patients to challenge program closures
  • Representing institutions in employment litigation challenging termination of tenured professors’ and tenure-track professors’ employment, consequent to the affiliation of two institutions
  • Defending against injunctive actions seeking to require continued employment of tenured faculty members at a successor institution or transfer of faculty members from a closing department to departments continuing within the university