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When President Potter chose to shut the Aviation program down, he apparently didn’t pay attention to the MnSCU shutdown procedure. Here’s a fresh reminder of what the MnSCU shutdown procedure requires:

Closure. Closure of an academic program must be approved by the chancellor. Approval will only be granted under the following circumstances:

The closure is requested by a system college or university, and the chancellor determines that the documentation provided supports closure,
The chancellor determines that closure is warranted, or
The academic program has not been reinstated following a suspension.

The academic program closure application must be documented by information, as applicable, regarding

1. academic program need,
2. student enrollment trends,
3. employment of graduates,
4. the financial circumstances affecting the academic program, system college or university,
5. the plan to accommodate students currently enrolled in the academic program,
6. impact on faculty and support staff,
7. consultation with appropriate constituent groups including students, faculty and community,
8. alternatives considered, and
9. other factors affecting academic program operation.

A closed academic program cannot be relocated, replicated or reinstated.

President Potter’s decision doesn’t make it past the first point, the one about needing the academic program. Based on the opening paragraphs of this article, President Potter’s argument that Aviation isn’t needed fall flat on their face:

For the second month in a row, more than 100 pilots have retired from American Airlines, which could cause problems for the fall schedule.

The Allied Pilots Association said 129 pilots will retire effective today. Last month, 111 pilots, many of whom flew Boeing 777s on international routes for American, also retired.

The Fort Worth-based carrier said it will still be able to operate its schedule “with minimal customer inconvenience.” However, American anticipates near-term staffing shortages.

“In preparation for a higher than usual number of retirements, we’ve taken a number of steps to minimize any customer inconvenience,” American spokeswoman Susan Gordon said. “We have made a proposal to the APA that would mitigate near-term staffing shortages that is good for both the airline and our pilots. Recent schedule reductions also have allowed us to absorb a higher retirement number than our historic rate for our current schedule.”

American has already cut capacity in the fourth quarter partly because of the high number of pilot retirements. Usually about a dozen pilots retire from the carrier each month.

How can President Potter say that there isn’t a vital need for pilots when a hundred pilots retired per month when the norm is a dozen a month? With all due respect, President Potter’s potential arguments vanish in a puff of smoke.

It’s nice that the airlines have made a proposal “that would mitigate near-term staffing shortages.” That’s just a stop-gap measure, though. What’s needed is a true long-term solution, not a stop-gap measure that temporarily papers over this problem.

Having 240 pilots retire in 2 months is 10 times the amount that normally retire. If this pattern continues for any amount of time, the airlines won’t be able to get by with stop-gap measures. They’ll need 4-year accredited universities training pilots to fill in the gap.

In fact, it isn’t difficult to make the argument that more universities should start 4-year accredited aviation programs. Shutting down these programs can’t be justified according to the MnSCU shutdown procedure. In that context, President Potter’s decision is essentially indefensible.

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