Policy: Departments and Department-like Academic Units Definition, Privileges, Responsibilities, and Process for Approvals

Policy on Departments and Department-like Academic Units

Approved by the University Committee on August 30, 2019 (8/30/2019) and the University Academic Planning Council (Chair: Provost Karl Scholz) on September 19, 2019 (9/19/2019).

The full policy document includes detailed information on developing proposals, approval processes, and implementation considerations. Definitions and distinguishing features for academic departments and other academic units are provided below and in the policy document.

Context

Academic departments are defined in Chapter 5 of Faculty Policies and Procedures (FPP) https://secfac.wisc.edu/governance/faculty-legislation/fpp_ch_5/

FPP Chapter 5 sets out guidelines for formal departments, and “other groups as equivalent to departments”.  FPP Ch 5 also specifies that departments and other groups equivalent to departments are governed in consultation with the University Academic Planning Council (UAPC), which is chaired by the provost (FPP Ch 6.52).

This policy fills a gap by specifying the criteria that the UAPC will use in considering department creation, restructuring or discontinuation, and also the creation, restructuring, or discontinuation of department-like units.  

Definitions and Key Features of Departments and Department-like Academic Units

FPP Ch 5 defines the academic department and makes allowance for “other groups equivalent to departments”.  

This policy names “other groups equivalent to departments” as “department-like academic units”. 

This policy specifies that a unit that supports enrollment of students in for-credit courses or academic programs is required to be approved as a department or as an academic unit that meets standards for supporting students. 

Definitions are as follows, and see Table 1:

Department (defined in FPP Ch 5.01.A).  A group of faculty dealing with a common field of knowledge or closely related scholarly interests.  Departments serve as tenure homes for faculty, exercise a broad range of functions and duties in relation to faculty academic life, and may also house academic programs and course Subject listings. 

Department-like Academic Unit; Tenure Home (referenced in FPP Ch5.01.B, FPP Ch 5.40). A group of faculty who are not all in the same department but who share responsibilities for departmental functions.  They exercise a broad range of functions and duties in relation to faculty academic life, and generally house at least one academic program (degree/major or certificate) or course Subject listing.  Department-like academic units usually do not serve as tenure homes, but for cases when department-like academic units are approved to serve as tenure homes, each faculty member’s tenure home will be approved on a case-by-case basis by the University Committee.

Department-like Academic Unit; Not a Tenure Home (referenced in FPP Ch5.01.B, FPP Ch 5.40). A group of faculty who are not all in the same department but who share responsibilities for departmental functions.  They exercise a broad range of functions and duties in relation to faculty academic life, and house at least one academic program (degree/major or certificate) or course Subject listing.  These units do not serve as a tenure home for faculty. 

Note that for administrative purposes, all schools/colleges deans offices also function as departments in terms of approving and administering academic programs and subjects.  In addition, some division-level schools are structured as a single department with the dean serving in the chair role (in addition to their dean role), and thus have a functionally equivalent role to departments under these guidelines.  


Table 1. Features of Departments and Department-like Academic Units 

Feature

Department

Department-like academic unit; can be a faculty tenure home

Department-like academic unit; NOT a faculty tenure home

Common Use

Department serves as a tenure home.
Supports the scholarly work of faculty.
Houses academic programs and subjects (courses) for enrolling students. 
Supports the research/scholarship and outreach/public service missions of the university. 
Has sufficient numbers of faculty and infrastructure to support the faculty mentoring and development.

 

An academic unit at a level equivalent to a department (not a subdepartment).

May serve as a tenure home; assignment of faculty to the unit as a tenure home requires UC approval.

Houses academic programs and subjects (courses) for enrolling students. 
Supports the research/scholarship and outreach missions of the university.
Like a department, has adequate governance structures to support participating faculty and staff, and enrolled students.  

An academic unit at a level equivalent to a department (not a subdepartment).

Does NOT serve as a tenure home.
Houses academic programs subjects (courses) for enrolling students. 
Supports the research/scholarship and outreach/public service missions of the university.
Like a department, has adequate governance structures to support participating faculty and staff, and enrolled students. 

Faculty Tenure Home

 

Yes

Yes.
UC approves the assignment of any faculty member to this kind of unit as a tenure home.

No

Approval Path

S/CàUAPCà(UC)à Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate is reading only

S/CàUAPCà(UC)à Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate is reading only

S/CàUAPC

Follows same path as academic program or subject

Faculty Leadership; selected as per FPP Ch 5.30

CHAIR (tenured faculty in the department; appointed as chair in HRS) or ACADEMIC PROGRAM DIRECTOR (holds tenure or joint exec appointment).

 

Academic Program Director, at least 0%. Has tenure home in the academic unit or, in a department and holds joint executive appointment in the academic unit.

Academic Program Director, at least 0%. Holds joint executive appointment in the academic unit.

Governance and Faculty Oversight

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - Tenured faculty (FPP 5.20.) and joint executive appointees (FPP 5.12.)

Faculty with Joint Executive appointments and Instructional Academic Staff (Cat B Instructional) as defined by the unit’s governance documents approved by UAPC and UC, and consistent with FPP Chapter 5, as applicable.

 

Faculty with Joint Executive appointments and Instructional Academic Staff (Cat B Instructional) as defined by the unit’s governance documents approved by UAPC and UC, and consistent with FPP Chapter 5, as applicable.

Tenured faculty may have joint executive app’ts (FPP 5.12.)

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Faculty and academic staff may have joint dept app’ts (FPP 5.12.)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Faculty and academic staff may have affiliate app’ts (FPP 5.13.)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Research mission

 

Expected

Expected

Depends on mission

Outreach/ public service mission

 

Expected

Expected

Depends on mission

Teaching/ instructional mission

Expected

Expected

Expected

Home for academic degree/major or certificate programs

Allowed

Allowed

Allowed

Home for Subjects (courses)

Allowed

Allowed

Allowed

Responsible to maintain necessary records required by the university in regard to teaching, research, and public service

Yes

Yes

Yes

Follow any requirements set by school/college, university or external agencies with respect to teaching, research and public service.

Yes

Yes

Yes

Name Format

Department of ---

School of --- (within a College)

 

Center of/for ---

--- Program

(does not use word “Department”)

Center of/for ---

--- Program

(does not use word “Department”)

Identified by Department ID – UDD

 

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Note: The focus of FPP is primarily on faculty roles and responsibilities and the governance of academic units; UAPC practice and policy is more focused on academic programs and on structures and standards related to student success. 

FPP 5.40. (“Department-like Bodies”) is understood to apply to ALL academic units that are not departments, some of which may not be included above.  The main example of units subject to FPP 5.40 but not listed here would be research centers; they are not included because they do not serve students through academic programs or subjects/courses. 

Governance approval is required for a department or other unit to serve the functions listed here.

 



After UAPC approval and Faculty Senate consideration, the department or its parent school/college will be reminded to contact the Office of Human Resources and Business Services with information about the approved change as part of implementation.

See Also:




Keywords:Policy, Department, Departments, Department-like, Academic Units   Doc ID:24537
Owner:Melissa S.Group:Courses and Academic Programs
Created:2012-05-31 14:27 CSTUpdated:2019-11-04 08:24 CST
Sites:Courses and Academic Programs
CleanURL:https://kb.wisc.edu/departments
Feedback:  0   0