All-college meeting summary and video

Last week members of the CALS community gathered at the spring all-college meeting to hear updates on college planning and objectives, budget cuts, building projects, the Extension transition, the state budget process, and progress toward goals related to college structure, academics and research.

In addition, Dean VandenBosch shared her strategies for growing instruction which include:

  • Fostering innovation in our pedagogy and the way we deliver educational programming (e.g. case-based learning and flipped classrooms)
  • analyzing and updating programs in order to prepare students for evolving opportunities;
  • increasing capacity in academic advising and other support such as career advising
  • continuing to emphasize activities outside the classroom as a signature part of the CALS experience
  • delivering a quality product that will attract students

If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can view a PDF of the Spring 2019 All College Meeting Presentation slides and watch the video.

Departmental plans outline path for college’s future

At the end of December, all CALS’s academic departments submitted five-year plans delineating departmental strategies in the following areas:

Goal 1: Strengthen the Research Portfolio
Goal 2: Strengthen Academic Programs
Goal 3: Strengthen Extension Programs and Outreach Activities
Goal 4: Foster Diversity and an Inclusive Climate
Goal 5: Strengthen Advancement Activities
Goal 6: Enhance Administrative, Service and Governance Efficacy
Goal 7: Enhance Collaboration on Shared Priorities
Goal 8: Increase Revenue Generating Activities

The development of departmental five-year plans was recommended by the CALS Organizational Redesign Committee. The plans support the college’s five-year overall goals to:

  • Increase undergrad enrollments to 4,000 students by 2023
  • Grow faculty numbers by 10% by 2023
  • Reduce the number of majors, while increasing the reach, impact and quality of those we offer
  • Optimize the number of departments based on shared priorities

Adding the projections from each departmental plan yields these compiled totals:

Current (FY18) 2023 combined goal Percentage increase
Research portfolio: grant expenditures $44M $55M 25%
Academic programs: enrollments 3,177 4,230 33%
Academic programs: Degrees 1,026  1,360 33%
Academic programs: credits follow instructor 63,500 76,000 20%
Academic programs: summer session revenues $1.4M $2.2M 57%

Individual plans include a number of proposals for new courses—including those online and offered during summer session—research collaborations, outreach programs, professional degree programs and initiatives to strengthen diversity and equity. One example of a commonly mentioned department project was conducting a climate survey, so CALS Human Resources is exploring the possibility of administering a college-wide survey.

The CALS Dean’s Office has reviewed all of the five-year plans and is in the process of discussing them with departments in their annual meetings. After each meeting, Dean VandenBosch will send a letter to departments outlining next steps, to-do items and feedback for the department to consider when revising the five-year plan for next year. The plans are considered living documents and are expected to be updated annually.

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Enrollment data and trends

At the January department chairs’ meeting, Dean Kate VandenBosch led a discussion with the chairs about undergraduate admission and enrollment trends within the college. A number of departmental five-year plans include ideas for new courses to attract additional students. Planning is also underway for a new global health major and discussions continue about a new major focused on agricultural ecosystems.

View Dean VandenBosch’s presentation on admission and enrollment trends.

Data trends and highlights

A goal of the college’s redesign is increasing enrollment and credit follows the instructor(CFI) activity. The college has seen a decline in both areas over the past five years. Enrollment and CFI are important metrics in the responsibility-centered management budget the campus launched in 2016, resulting in a loss of revenue for CALS.

CALS’s enrollment peaked at 3,600 in 2014-15, which was also the peak year for total CALS CFI. Since then, CALS numbers have dropped to under 3,100 students enrolled today. Dean VandenBosch set a goal to increase enrollment to 4,000 undergraduates by fiscal year 2023. That is a 25 percent increase over the number of students in 2018, taking advantage of capacity in CALS’ courses and making the most effective use of instructional efforts and students’ tuition.

While CALS’ CFI has been decreasing (down more than six percent in five years), other schools and colleges at UW-Madison have been increasing their CFI with new courses and programs. Human Ecology increased CFI by nearly 50 percent.

Another noteworthy enrollment trend at UW–Madison is the high number of students in their first and second years who have not yet declared a major. The number of undergraduate degrees granted remained fairly steady over the past five years of declining enrollments, indicating that students come to CALS to complete their studies at consistent rates, but spend the early years of their academic careers in a program from which they will not graduate.

Admissions data shows that a relatively small number of incoming students declare CALS. For the 2019-2020 school year, CALS had 3,298 applicants, 57 percent of whom were admitted and 18 percent enrolled. 15 CALS majors had fewer than 100 students apply for admissions, and eight of those programs had fewer than 20 applicants.

Departmental five-year plan and funding request review process

CALS departments submitted their five-year plans at the end of the calendar year. These plans are part of the college’s overall planning strategy (see question #2) and are in response to the CALS Organizational Redesign Committee’s recommendations. Some departments also submitted requests for faculty funding as part of the new budget model.

In the coming weeks, Dean VandenBosch and the associate deans will review the plans in order to provide feedback to the department chairs at the annual department meetings in February and March (see below for the schedule). Departments can expect to get a summary of the deans’ feedback after their annual department meeting is complete.

Notifications on the approval or denial of funding requests will be sent by the end of spring break (March 24, 2019). In the meantime, departments should begin implementing actions outlined in their plans that are not related to faculty recruitment.

A summary of the plans will be posted in a future eCALS.

Schedule of annual department meetings with the dean’s office:

  • Biochemistry: Friday, February 8, 2019
  • Plant Pathology: Thursday, February 21, 2019
  • Animal Sciences: Friday, February 22, 2019
  • Dairy Science: Friday, February 22, 2019
  • Horticulture: Friday, February 22, 2019
  • Life Sciences Communication: Monday, February 25, 2019
  • Ag and Applied Econ: Tuesday, February 26, 2019
  • Forest and Wildlife Ecology: Tuesday, February 26, 2019
  • Nutritional Sciences: Tuesday, February 26, 2019
  • Agronomy: Thursday, February 28, 2019
  • Entomology: Thursday, February 28, 2019
  • Soil Science: Thursday, February 28, 2019
  • Bacteriology: Friday, March 1, 2019
  • Community and Environmental Sociology: Thursday, March 7, 2019
  • Genetics: Thursday, March 7, 2019
  • Biological Systems Engineering: Tuesday, March 12, 2019
  • Food Science: Friday, March 15, 2019

CALS APC approves discontinuation of poultry science major

At their December 18, 2018 meeting, members of the college’s Academic Planning Council (APC) voted to discontinue the poultry science major. The program has no enrolled students.

Following this approval, the UW–Madison University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) will need to approve the decision. Admissions will be suspended once the UAPC approves the measure.

Closure of the poultry science major was initiated by the department of animal sciences with a vote last year and aligns with Dean Kate VandenBosch’s redesign outcomes that the college will offer fewer academic majors while creating more options for students within existing majors.

All required courses for the poultry science major have been offered during summer session through the Midwest Poultry Consortium, a cooperative program between industry and 14 universities. UW–Madison students can continue to participate in the six-course poultry sequence through the consortium, which will again be hosted on campus this summer.

No changes to Extension programs are expected as a result of this undergraduate curriculum change. The Poultry Science student organization is also expected to continue as long as students are interested and there is a qualified advisor available.

CALS All-College Meeting summary: Time of change, time to grow

Around 100 people attended the All-College Meeting held on Wednesday, Nov. 14. The meeting featured presentations by various CALS leaders, followed by a Q&A session. Highlights from the meeting are summarized below. A recording of the meeting can be watched here:, and the full set of slides presented can be downloaded here: Nov 2018 All-College Meeting.

State/UW/CALS budget – Dick Straub

CALS has been experiencing a downward budget trend for various reasons. During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, CALS absorbed a $2.8M cut as part of a $87M cut to UW–Madison. That resulted in a loss of 10-11 CALS faculty lines, meaning that CALS did not replace faculty who left the UW. The remainder was absorbed primarily through CALS administration, including cuts to Agricultural Research Stations.

Recently, campus implemented a resource-based budget model that factors in student numbers and research dollars, which has also resulted in cuts to CALS. We have been negatively impacted because our student numbers have been declining since our peak undergraduate enrollment in 2014-2015, and because our research dollars have been holding steady (while other colleges and schools have seen increases in research funding). These measures are applied to 10% of the 101 funds that the college receives from UW–Madison.

To reverse this downward budget trend, the college needs to: 1) increase summer term course enrollment; 2) grow our programs for professional students; 3) grow alumni/stakeholder support; and 4) grow our research funds.

Extension budget – Doug Reinemann

Over the past three decades, there has been a general decline in the number of CALS faculty positions, including jointly-funded CALS and Extension faculty lines. The most recent round of budget cuts led to an 8.5% reduction in the amount of Extension funds coming to CALS. The college expects to absorb the total amount of that cut by FY2020.

The college plans to entertain proposals for faculty and staff funded fully/partly by Extension in FY2020. Certain high-need positions can be requested via the twice-annual funding requests for consideration to be filled sooner.

Summer session budget – Karen Wassarman

Increasing summer session enrollment is a campus priority — and therefore a CALS priority. The summer session budget model is independent from the 101 budget model for the academic year. Each year, campus charges CALS $1M to cover costs related to teaching. CALS originally followed the same model for distributing that fee among departments, but the college has developed a new model that will be implemented next year. Starting in summer 2019, the assessment will be proportional to each department’s overall 101 budget. Departments have flexible options for paying their share of the assessment and don’t have to rely solely on summer tuition revenue (though summer teaching is still very important).

Another change that starts in 2019: Departments will retain all of their summer tuition revenue, after course expenses have been covered.

CALS goals – Kate VandenBosch

Main CALS goals include:

  • Increasing undergraduate enrollment to 4,000, an increase of 25% over 5 years (based on FY18 enrollment of ~3,200)
  • Grow non-traditional and summer programs
  • Advance research excellence
  • Grow faculty numbers by 10% over 5 years

CALS Organizational Redesign – Kate VandenBosch

The CALS Organizational Redesign is moving forward. Departments are currently working on developing their five-year plans, which are due at the end of December.

Through this process, some departments are exploring structural changes, including:

  • Merger: dairy science and animal sciences
  • Collaborative: agronomy, entomology, horticulture, plant pathology, soil science
  • Collaborative: biological systems engineering and soil science
  • Genetics is reviewing its current structure, which is split between CALS and the School of Medicine and Public Health

Through this process, some academic changes are underway, including:

  • Steps to close admissions to the poultry science major are being initiated (average enrollment for the past five years is one student, no students are currently declared)
  • New advising centers shared among multiple majors are being explored
  • A new “Global Health” major is being explored (there is currently a certificate program for Global Health)
  • A new “Agricultural Ecosystems” major is being explored, which would replace the undergraduate majors for agronomy, entomology, horticulture, plant pathology and soil science and be a basis for that collaborative

It takes a lot of time to create a new major. The same is true to discontinue an existing major, a process that includes a 4-6 year “teach out” period when all declared students are given the chance to complete their degree.

Thanks to some short-term funding from campus, CALS is making some strategic hires: a position in Academic Affairs to develop new academic programs and grow enrollment; a position in the Research Division to help with proposal development including complex, multi-investigator proposals; a new faculty position in Animal Sciences focused on Animal Biologics.

Questions and discussion

Many topics were covered during the Q&A/discussion session, including:

  • One way to increase enrollment in a major could be to change the name of the major so it appeals to more students. This process takes about 9-12 months.
  • The college continues to value small, hands-on courses. These provide rich experiences for students. At the same time, the college needs more large-enrollment course to help bring in tuition dollars. Likewise, more online and summer term courses are needed to bring in revenue. It is important to have a mix of these various types of courses.
  • Several attendees expressed interest in additional TA support for large-enrollment courses. The college currently distributes $525,000 to departments in order to support teaching assistants. Increasing TA funding will require new revenues or decreases to allocations for other activities. This is an area where we will continue to look for innovative approaches and plan to continue discussions with department chairs and others.
  • CALS will recruit students to the college in various ways: from among campus’ expanding freshman class, from among the pool of undecided/undeclared students, and recruiting from other majors.
  • The biology major could be a model for the new majors that the college will be exploring /developing.

Frequently asked question about process to change an academic program

There has been some discussion about and confusion around the process for adding new or discontinuing academic programs, so we have added an FAQ to

What steps are necessary to change an academic program?

In Dean VandenBosch’s eCALS welcome message on September 9, she mentioned that despite possible changes to future undergraduate academic offerings, the path to graduation for our students within their chosen major will not change. UW–Madison policy ensures that students can complete any major in which they are declared. Because majors are so fundamental, the university takes the time to carefully consider changes and it takes several years to launch a new program or even change an existing one.

To help explain the processes, there are two graphics to show steps needed to make changes to an undergraduate academic program:

These documents can also be found in the Organizational Redesign Toolkit.

Frequently asked question about teaching

At the beginning of the process, we committed to providing answers to frequently asked questions about the redesign on the project page. We have a question to add to the existing list:

How do departments choose between teaching during the school year and teaching during summer or creating a revenue generating program like a professional masters’ or capstone?

This is a false choice. As Wisconsin’s flagship university, teaching undergraduate and graduate students during the academic year is core to our operations. Restated, there is not a choice for departments about teaching during the academic year – it is what the university and its departments are required to do.

Within the process of departments crafting five-year plans, departments can consider either expanding summer teaching, expanding “Advance Your Career” professional post-baccalaureate offerings, or increasing activity in both realms. Other revenue generating activities departments should consider include increased extramural funding or increased private philanthropy.

Summer teaching is an opportunity for us to grow our programs and revenues, but also meet the needs of more students, decrease time to graduation and reach new students, including those from other institutions. Compared to our peers, the University of Wisconsin-Madison hasn’t capitalized on the summer teaching opportunity.

Similarly, creating professional programs that enable people to advance their careers will also generate additional revenue.

In both of these cases, the revenue generated will support that home department.

Funding request forms for fall FY19 released

The second round of funding requests is due to Associate Dean Angie Seitler by December 31, 2018. Departments should use these forms to submit their requests (one form per request):

In April, the Allocation of Faculty Salary Savings Procedures was released and the first round of funding requests under the new model began. The new model was developed in response to the Organizational Redesign Committee’s recommendation regarding the allocation of state funding (tuition and General Purpose Revenue) from vacated faculty lines.

Round one of this new model resulted in the college funding nearly $175,000 in fund 101 bridge funding and approving twelve new faculty positions.

CALS leaders announce new budget approach for summer session

At the recent department chairs meeting, CALS Administration announced the college will follow a new approach for summer session budgeting beginning with summer term 2019.

Based on historical revenue generated by CALS summer programs, UW–Madison assesses CALS approximately $1 million of college-generated summer tuition to contribute to the university’s fund 101 budget for the academic year.   As tuition revenues increase, the campus assessment will also increase modestly. The overall amount to be divided among departments will include the total assessed by the university, plus a small additional amount to support advising, academic planning, marketing, accounting, audit and human resources in CALS.

In order to incentivize departments to participate in summer session instruction and to provide departments with a predictable cost-sharing formula, CALS plans to proportionately assess each department based on the department’s overall adjusted 101 base budget. Departments will retain any summer session tuition revenue generated by their offerings. The offering department will cover direct costs of summer session courses, such as lab expenses, TA costs, or instructor salaries.

Under this approach, departments with a larger share of the college’s overall 101 budget will be assessed at a higher rate than those with a smaller share of the college’s overall 101 budget. Departments can choose to pay their assessment with summer tuition revenues or other discretionary funding source, including funds from unrestricted 101, 131, 136, 150 or 233 accounts.

Assessments will be determined based on a three-year average of 101 budget share for each department relative to the college’s overall fund 101 budget. The following table summarizes the percent fund 101 budget share for each CALS department (assessments will be collected from departments mid-fall semester).

Department/Program % of Budget Total
Agricultural and Applied Economics 7.01%
Agronomy 5.34%
Animal Science 7.63%
Bacteriology 10.46%
Biochemistry 15.91%
Biological Systems Engineering 4.87%
Community and Environmental Sociology 2.61%
Dairy Science 3.95%
Entomology* 4.49%
Food Science 4.81%
Forest and Wildlife Ecology* 5.97%
Genetics 5.83%
Horticulture 4.18%
Life Sciences Communication 3.02%
Nutritional Sciences 5.29%
Plant Pathology* 4.14%
Soil Science 4.50%
Total CALS Fund 101 Funding in Model 100.00%