Frequently Asked Questions

Instructional Programs
Reinvesting in Faculty Lines

General Questions

Q: How will the departmental five-year plans be used? How will they mesh with 10-year reviews?

A: As the primary planning and strategy document for each department, these plans and will be the foundation for the dean making strategic investments across the college. Specifically, future funding requests will be evaluated by looking at how the use of funds aligns with and will advance department strategies outlined in the plans. The plans will be the focal point for the annual meetings between the dean and departments and the dean will also use five-year plans to frame requests for support from the Chancellor’s Office and share success stories with CALS stakeholders.

The plans should aid departments going through 10-year program reviews, which are required by the university and by professional accrediting bodies in some departments. Consistent planning and reporting should make it easier for a department to draft the self-study documents required by the 10-year review process.

The Dean’s Office will prepare a summary of the five-year plans from across the college so that the entire community is able to review the aggregate goals for CALS’s departments. The compilation will be available through eCALS and the project website.

Five-year plans are due by the end of the calendar year. [December 17, 2018]

Q: 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?

A: 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. [October 5, 2018]

Q: What is the expected timeline?

A: In February, department chairs will share their ideas about the future of their departments during their annual meeting with the dean. Through March and April, the dean will discuss the best path forward with departments. In early summer, the dean will release the template for the five-year plans. As more details about next steps/timeline become available, they will be shared on the project website, in eCALS and at department chairs’ meetings. [February 19, 2018]

Q: Why are the discussions beginning with departmental structures and not with central college administrative offices?

Administrative structures should support our core teaching, research and outreach work. Once our departmental structures that drive these core activities are set, we will be able to adjust these administrative support structures and services in an optimal way. [February 19, 2018]

Q: What happens to centers under this redesign?

A: Centers were not part of the considerations for redesigning the college at this point. The focus is currently on departments, the core units through which we deliver our curricula and research and outreach programs. Centers will continue to function in their current structures. Those that are housed within a department should be considered by the department as the department develops a five-year plan for the future. Centers that report directly to the college will not be involved in redesign conversations at this stage.

Unrelated to redesign, CALS has instituted a process for the periodic review of individual centers and institutes, to aid their planning for the future.  This is similar to centers and institutes overseen by the VCRGE. This year, three CALS centers will undergo collegiate review. [February 19, 2018]

Q: Is the data that the redesign committee used to develop their recommendations available?

A: You can read results of the CALS survey, departmental summaries provided by each department to the committee and the peer institution structures the committee examined on the redesign website. [February 19, 2018]

Q: How will this process bring in additional revenues to the college?

A: The Organizational Redesign process itself will not directly create new revenues. It will be up to the departments and divisions, in collaboration with the Dean’s Office, to implement new revenue-generating strategies such as expand summer semester, develop programs for professionals with market-based tuition, explore student mix and numbers, enhance alumni support and increase research funding. The college will set goals for revenue generation, and five-year plans will address goals within departments/divisions. [February 19, 2018]

Q: How will a department know if its best path is to change or “remain as is”?

A: Performance metrics will determine how departments are evaluated. The Dean’s Office will define the full set of metrics and make them available to departments by April of 2018. At that point, the Dean’s Office will discuss with each department how the metrics apply to them, and what options each department has going forward. [February 19, 2018]

Q: Are layoffs expected as part of this process?

A: There are no faculty or staff reductions planned as part of the redesign. [February 19, 2018]

Q: Will there be a public comment period for vetting any specific changes?

The mechanisms for comment and input will depend on the specific changes under consideration.  All formal restructuring of units and programs will follow governance policies on campus, which include opportunities and expectations for broad input. [February 19, 2018]

Q: What are the budget implications for implementing these changes? Will they save money or cost additional resources?

A: The goal of the Organizational Redesign is to use our existing resources as efficiently as possible. Resources derived from new revenue-generating activities will be used to advance college and department priorities. [February 19, 2018]

Q: How will these efforts encourage innovation and interdisciplinary work?

A: This process is, in part, designed to give departments more fiscal autonomy and reward innovative collaborations. The new resource allocation model and divisional affiliations will facilitate these collaborations. [February 19, 2018]

Q: Will smaller departments automatically be “losers” in this process?

Our goal is to work collaboratively and creatively to arrive at structures that result in departments with strength in all of its mission areas. Size is just one factor to consider in determining whether a department is able to contribute effectively to the missions of the college in its current form. [February 19, 2018]

Q:  What will happen to the identity of my department if we merge with another or partner in a new division?

A: One of the principles that the Organizational Redesign Committee used was to honor the historic identity of disciplines, while recognizing that disciplines evolve. Departmental faculties are encouraged to define and highlight the most important elements of their identities and to share those identifying qualities when assessing departmental partners. [February 19, 2018]

Q: How will external stakeholders and partners be included in this process?

A:  The college is committed to continuing the open and transparent process employed to date. Campus and college guidelines for restructuring departments and academic programs include an expectation that external stakeholders and partners will be consulted about any proposed or planned changes. [February 19, 2018]

Q: How will those who are change averse be encouraged to participate?

A:  Change is by its nature unfamiliar and often uncomfortable.  Our goal is to define our future rather than have it being imposed on us by others.  The college will use resource allocation and strategic investments to achieve the desired goals of a stronger and more effective structure.  This doesn’t mean change will be easy, but we are striving for a brighter, more well-resourced future. [February 19, 2018]

Q: Departments are governed by faculty. What role will academic staff and university staff play in this process?

A:   Campus and college policies governing restructuring departments and academic programs outline specific processes for governance consultation. In addition to policy requirements, the college is committed to continuing the open and transparent process employed to date. [February 19, 2018]

Q: How will the history of departments be honored through this process?

A: A defining aspect of our history has been our responsiveness to the world around us and the needs of our stakeholders and the citizens of Wisconsin. Over the nearly 130-year history of the college, that has meant continued reflection and refinement of our structure, and we aim to honor that history of continual evolution. [February 19, 2018]

Q: How should departments approach creating a five-year plan?

A: CALS administration will distribute a template for plans to departments by July. The templates will outline elements to include within the plan and guidance on how to approach the planning process. If departments have specific requests for support, please contact Kara Luedtke. [February 19, 2018]

Q: Will program reviews be suspended until departments determine a path forward?

A: No. All program reviews will continue for programs as they currently exist on a new schedule. UW–Madison, UW System and our accreditors require that these reviews continue. Departments or programs who undergo changes in the future will be reviewed under the new structure in the future. [February 19, 2018]

Q: Will departments more heavily invested in outreach and extension work be penalized?

A: CALS’ performance metrics, as recommended by the committee, will include recognition of outreach and extension activities. Cooperative Extension remains committed to funding faculty doing extension work, although we expect increased competition for these limited funds. [February 19, 2018]


Q: What is a collaborative?

A: In their report, the CALS Organizational Redesign Committee recommended that departments could consider forming “divisions.” The word “division” already holds significant meaning on campus, so the Dean’s Office considered other names and ultimately chose “collaborative.” A collaborative, as an organizational structure, fosters teamwork while allowing some departmental autonomy. By forming a collaborative, departments will share some resources, jointly perform some functions, and have greater critical mass to advance common priorities, especially new research or teaching initiatives that could develop after the collaborative is formed. [April 2, 2018]

Q: Assuming that departmental mergers follow the UW-Madison policies related to departmental mergers in Faculty Policies and Procedures 5.02, what policies will govern the creation of collaboratives?

A: Faculty Policies and Procedures (FPP) governance policies apply to departments and “department-like bodies” and specifically target faculty personnel issues, including tenure, and academic programs. Departments that engage in a collaboration will maintain their own governance and executive committees. During summer 2018, CALS will outline an oversight policy for collaboratives. [April 2, 2018]

Q: What authority will collaboratives have over funding, curriculum, research and other management decisions?

A: Once formed, collaboratives will establish governing guidelines outlining shared responsibilities delegated by the departments and those retained by the member departments. For example, guidelines will clearly state how collaborative decisions will be made and by whom. Further details will be determined during the summer 2018. [April 2, 2018]

Q: Creating collaboratives seems to add another level of bureaucracy without additional revenue. How will additional costs be covered?

A: Collaboratives should not incur additional costs, because they will be supported by existing faculty and staff. Additionally, total service requirements per person should drop within a collaborative because responsibilities will be shared by more people across the member departments, allowing for more time for teaching and research activities. [April 2, 2018]

Q: Can a faculty member be a member of a collaborative and not a member of a department?

A: No. Under FPP rules, all tenure-track faculty must have a departmental tenure home. [April 2, 2018]

Q: Can a department be part of multiple collaboratives?

A: No. A collaborative may include more than one department, but each department should only enter into a single collaborative. While we encourage each department to explore multiple options, they should ultimately determine which one merger or collaborative suits them best. If departments were to spread themselves across multiple partnerships, it would require more effort to maintain those partnerships than the efficiencies that would be gained. [April 2, 2018]

Q: Will collaboratives become merged departments in 10 years?

A: Departments in a collaborative may determine that a merged unit better supports the future of the disciplines and functionality of the collaborative member departments. However, forming a collaborative does not prescribe “future merger.” [April 2, 2018]

Q: Is the Russell Labs hub an example of how a collaborative might work?

A: No. In the current Russel Labs hub, administrative staff are shared, but each of the three member departments makes independent decisions about departmental resources, faculty and curriculum. Departments in a collaborative would be expected to make decisions collaboratively on shared activities, such as priorities for faculty hiring and retentions, operations of joint academic programs and some committee service. A collaborative will have governing guidelines outlining the shared responsibilities and those retained by the member departments. [April 2, 2018]

Q: How will UDDS numbers be allocated to collaboratives?

A: The exact structure of collaboratives will be worked out by the Dean’s Office during summer 2018. [April 2, 2018]

Instructional Programs

Q: What is CFI and why is it important?

A: Credits Follow the Instructor (CFI) is a method for measuring an academic unit’s instructional activity. Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) generates these metrics tied to the instructor of record by multiplying the number of credits students earn from the course by the number of students enrolled in that course. To learn more, read the ABCs of CFI.

From APIR: Under the Credits Follow the Instructor (CFI) method, student credit hours are attributed to the department that pays the salary of the instructor of record. For example, if the Department of Botany (A4813) offers a course under the Subject of Botany (208), and the instructor of record is a professor in Plant Pathology, and is paid under Plant Pathology, then the student credit hours in this particular Botany course “belong” to Plant Pathology. If the course is cross-listed between Botany and Plant Pathology, then the student credit hours still accrue to Plant Pathology.

Total CFI activity within a college accounts for 80% of the instructional portion of the UW–Madison budget model. The model is based on two years of activity with most recent year weighted at twice the value of the prior year (to mitigate impact of extreme fluctuations and emphasize recent activity). Because of a decline in CFI and enrollment, CALS’ instructional budget decreased $141,000 this year (total decrease under budget model for the year = $388,000). [December 17, 2018]

Q: We want to increase enrollment in CALS by 25% in five years, but where will the students come from? 

A: Of the 12,000 freshman and sophomores attending UW–Madison, over half of them have not yet declared a major. If we attracted a fraction of that undecided population to declare a CALS major sooner, we would make significant progress toward this goal.

As a college, we graduate significantly more undergraduate students than we enroll as first year students. In other words, students tend to discover all that CALS has to offer after they have already been on campus for two or three years. We could significantly increase our total enrollment, and potentially decrease students’ time-to-degree, by attracting them to their eventual CALS major earlier in their UW–Madison career.

Increasing our enrollment will require a two-pronged approach: We need to attract new students to our majors and attract students enrolled at UW–Madison earlier in their college career. The Office of Academic Affairs is developing strategies to make progress toward these goals. [December 17, 2018]

Q: What steps are necessary to change an academic program?

A: 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. [October 18, 2018]

Q: How will graduate programs change as a result of the college redesign?

A: There are no plans to consider changes to graduate programs in the scope of this process. Graduate programs are reviewed by the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee per university policy. Following reviews, program leaders may consider changes as a result of that university-wide process.

Many CALS graduate programs operate across existing departmental lines as cross-disciplinary training efforts. Because they are currently broader than individual departments, we don’t expect graduate programs to change as a result of possible changes to either departments, collaboratives or undergraduate academic programs. [July 23, 2018]

Q: Why is offering fewer undergraduate majors fundamentally advantageous?

A: There is not an ideal number of majors to be offered, but departments should consider their overall capacity, student mix and opportunities to attract new investment when determining program offerings. Academic programs require a minimum set of resources to ensure high quality instruction, advising, and student support.  At present the college offers over 70 academic programs, each of which requires not only instructional and advising resources, but administrative support for documentation, reporting, and review (e.g., the Guide, the Schedule of Classes, Program Reviews, federal reporting, accreditation, assessment, and so on). [February 19, 2018]

Q: Should we only be offering majors that appeal to students?

A: Student demand is one element to be used in planning, but should be considered along with employment opportunity and societal need. [February 19, 2018]

Q: How will student input be considered in this process?

A:   All significant academic program changes – including restructuring, suspension and discontinuation – require student and alumni input. [February 19, 2018]

Q: If faculty numbers remain flat and student enrollments grow, who will cover additional teaching and advising needs?

A: It is important for the college to consider approaches to attract new resources in order to invest in additional instructional resources, including the possibility of additional TAs, graders and other instructional resources. It is also important to note that growing student enrollments do bring additional revenue to campus and additional resources to the college’s 101 budget, which can support additional personnel needs. [February 19, 2018]

Q: Why don’t we market our programs to students more aggressively?

A: Because historically, undergraduate admissions decisions are made centrally without regard to student preference for majors, so it has not been fruitful for the college to invest in recruiting.

The campus philosophy around enrollment management and student recruiting has recently undergone a significant shift, providing new opportunities for the college to set enrollment targets and to participate actively in student recruitment. Marketing will be important in increasing enrollments in these new ventures. [February 19, 2018]

Q: If we increase class sizes, where will we find larger classrooms to accommodate more students?

A: UW–Madison is not currently experiencing a shortage of classroom space. Instructors may have to hold classes outside of their primary building or consider offering classes at different times, but there is space available on campus to accommodate larger classes. [February 19, 2018]

Q: What will happen to certificates?

A: Certificates which are approved by departmental curriculum committees will continue to be the responsibility of those departments and should be considered among the array of academic programs when departments are considering new departmental partners. [February 19, 2018]

Reinvesting in Faculty Lines

Q: The dean’s response to the committee recommendations only delineates revenue sharing for faculty positions funded by college 101 dollars. What about positions funded through other mechanisms like Cooperative Extension, cluster hires and outside groups?

A: The revenue sharing with departments only applies to funds that the college controls. Faculty are funded in a variety of ways by entities outside of the college. The CALS dean does not have authority to spend those funds. We anticipate working with the appropriate partner on reinvestment when positions funded by entities outside of the college open. [February 19, 2018]

Q: Can a CALS department partner with a department in another college to jointly invest in a faculty position?

A: Nothing precludes a department hiring a faculty member with a department outside of CALS, given a strong rationale and a reasonable scope for a candidate to be successful in such a position. [February 19, 2018]

Q: How will the current VCRGE cluster hire program influence faculty hiring in CALS?

A: Departments must prioritize positions hired directly through the department and through special opportunities, like the cluster programs. As a result of revenue sharing, departments will play a larger role in funding start-up packages and other costs associated with new faculty hires. [February 19, 2018]

Q: How will spousal hires be considered now?

A: As a result of receiving a share of the revenue from vacant positions, departments will play a larger role in hiring spouses and other opportunistic hires, as well as retention offers. Departments may request college funds for these purposes, but there is an expectation of department participation. [February 19, 2018]