University of Wisconsin–Madison

Academic Departments and Subject Listings

Establishing or Restructuring Subject Listings

Proposals to establish new Subject listings (sometimes referred to as Timetable departments), or to reorganize or discontinue Subject listings typically are approved by the program faculty, at the school/college level by the APC or curriculum committee, and subsequently at the University Academic Planning Council. Deans forward proposals to the provost. The provost will present the proposal to the University Academic Planning Council. This process assures that changes in Subject listings are consistent with the purpose of the Schedule of Classes – to support enrollment by students – and will insure that all appropriate campus offices are notified of the change.

UW-Madison Guidelines for Establishing, Renaming, Reorganizing, or Discontinuing Subject Listings

Renaming Academic Departments

A proposal to rename an academic department is prepared and voted on by the department faculty.
The proposal should include the day and count of the vote with a list of faculty who were present.
After the department vote, the proposal should be considered by the school/college APC and then forwarded to the provost with a cover memo of support from the dean.  Consideration by the UAPC is final action, but the name change is required to go to the Faculty Senate for a reading.

Components of the proposal:

  • clear statement of the current and new name of the department
  • statement of all of the academic program components that will also have a name change, including any degree/major programs, PhD minors, Subject listings, and so on
  • an explanation of the reason for the name change
  • proposed timeline
  • documentation of concurrence from any department with even a slightly overlapping name (this will avoid any questions that may arise about whether any departments with overlapping identity have been adequately consulted)- if the proposal includes a proposal to change the name of academic programs (degrees/majors) then considerations associated with program name changes should be addressed (for considerations and policy see Things to Think About When Proposing a Program Name Change)

Establishing or Restructuring Academic Departments

New departments and departmental restructuring takes lots of planning.  Proposals are developed by interested faculty, usually with dean support and wide consultation.  Proposals need to be approved at the school/college level. Following approval by the school/college academic planning council, proposals are forwarded by the dean to the provost who will seek a recommendation on the proposal from the University Academic Planning Council. If approved, the proposal is presented at the Faculty Senate for information and discussion prior to final implementation. The action is reported to UW System Administration for information, but no approval is required by UW System or the Board of Regents.

For more detailed guidance about what to include in a proposal see:
Guidelines for New Departments and Departmental Restructuring

The following guidelines, adopted by the UAPC in 1996, provide general guidelines for departmental restructuring:

Guidelines for Faculty Participation in Department Restructuring

(adopted by the UAPC 3/21/96)

Significant restructuring of academic units on campus necessarily involves shifts of faculty between units and/ or changes in program goals and perspectives. With the clear purpose of clarifying the process by which faculty governance is served during a restructuring activity and thus avoiding unnecessary grievances, new faculty policies and procedures (FPP 5.01 and 5.02) have been approved and require the following:

  1. The UAPC will develop broad restructuring guidelines. Guidelines are generic statements designed to enable compliance with policies or rules. The UAPC guidelines have the purpose of assisting deans and college APCs in formulating their procedures for restructuring. Guidelines provide a structure that is broad and inclusive with the purpose of not isolating any individual or group of individuals from participating in the decision-making process. The FPP restructuring language contains principles of conduct, such as due process and policies based on the material interests of the tenured faculty. These principles and policies are the subject matter of the guidelines.
  2. All academic planning councils will develop criteria for departmental restructuring. Criteria provide a standard useful in determining how the restructuring guidelines are to be followed in a particular unit. APCs are encouraged to keep criteria simple and flexible enough to fit various restructuring events.

Requirements of Faculty Policies and Procedures

Given that substantial restructuring activities include the merging, creation and discontinuance of departments, or the transfer of significant number of faculty from one department to another, attention must be paid to the cross disciplinary nature of these activities. The following guidelines require APCs to communicate and negotiate with other APCs that are or may be affected by any planned restructuring activity. These guidelines address vertical (across schools/colleges) and horizontal (within schools/colleges) restructuring and apply to restructuring activities initiated by administrators as well as faculty (top down and bottom up). It is expected that restructuring negotiations will be conducted in the spirit of openness between deans, APCs and affected faculty.

UAPC Guidelines for APCs

FPP policy requires the design of college/school criteria for the evaluation of any substantial departmental restructuring. The following guidelines should be followed in formulating these criteria:

  1. Criteria will reflect the mission of the school/college and the larger mission of the university.
  2. A clear process within the school/college will be developed for the collection and hearing of recommendations from affected executive committees and individuals during all stages of restructuring from design to implementation.
    1. The elapsed time between the beginning of this process and the forwarding of an APC plan to the UAPC shall be no less than 6 months. In those situations where major issues have been resolved and all parties are in agreement as to the restructuring, the UAPC can accept a plan for consideration after a shorter discussion period at the school/college level.
    2. This process will include a procedure for presenting a restructuring plan to the UAPC.
    3. This process will include a method for negotiating with other APCs when other APCs are affected by the restructuring.
    4. If more than one school/college is affected by the restructuring, members of the relevant APCs must deliberate and develop a single restructuring plan to be forwarded to the UAPC.
  3. Criteria will include clear provisions to protect the professional lives of untenured faculty affected by restructuring.
  4. APCs must submit their restructuring plans and recommendations including procedures followed to the UAPC for review. If the dean or deans recommendations are different from the APCs they must also submit a recommendation to the UAPC.

Sample Restructuring Path

  1. After departmental restructuring discussions have been initiated by administrators or faculty, the affected APC should apply the approved school/college restructuring criteria and process to the affected department(s).
  2. During a six month period in which the APC is following the restructuring process members should negotiate with other APCs if needed.
  3. The APC(s) should develop a single restructuring plan and present this, along with a description of procedures followed, for approval to the UAPC.
  4. The UAPC will either approve the plan or return it for revisions.
  5. All impasses between the APCs and/or deans will be adjudicated by the chancellor before the plan is sent to the UAPC for consideration.

Some Sample Criteria for School/College APCs

  1. Centrality: Is the department(s) central to the mission of the school/college and university?
  2. Quality: What is the quality of the department?
  3. Service: How well does the department(s) meet the needs of undergraduate and graduate students?
  4. Cost effectiveness: Is the department(s) cost effective and if not does the performance of the department depend on criteria 1, 2 and 3 outweigh cost effectiveness?