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Lumen as the Single Source of Truth

Policies and approval items from ACPRAC. The overview about how Guide, Lumen Courses, Programs, and Structures became the "single source of truth."


Lumen/Guide - Lumen Content

Policy Number


Responsible Office

Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research


University Policy


Lumen is the gateway for faculty, staff, and governance bodies to propose, update, track and/or approve academic and curricular information at UW-Madison. As a large and complex organization, it is imperative the campus community rely on one source of truth for course and curricular information.


Single Source of Truth

The Lumen/Guide complies with accreditation requirements, promotes data integrity and efficiency, provides students with consistent and easy-to-access information, and aligns with institutional priorities. For these reasons, the Lumen/Guide is the single source of truth, and the Lumen suite of tools is the official repository for all course and program information.

  • All course changes, including course proposals and course deactivations, must be made through Lumen Course Proposals and, if approved, will appear in the Guide for the effective term of the proposal. All course proposals must be effective for a future term, while all discontinuations become effective in the current term.
  • All curricular changes must be made through Lumen Program Proposals and/or Structure Proposals and, if approved, will appear in the Guide for the term listed in the administrative section of the proposal in accordance with the publication deadlines. All curricular changes must be effective for a future term; no changes will be retroactive. Non-governed content is to be updated annually, as necessary. See Knowledge Base for more information on Updating Principles by Tab, for the publication deadlines, and for more information on procedures.

Academic structure revisions can only be made with the approval of governance process and, when required, the approval of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and/or State Legislature approval.

Accreditation Requirements

In alignment with the Higher Learning Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation, the Guide clearly and completely ensures all academic programs and curricular paths therein are:

  1. Approved by the appropriate level of formal governance (e.g., department, school/college, university, etc.); and
  2. Recognized as fulfilling current degree/major/certificate requirement(s) for any student pursuing a degree/major/cert based on date of declaration or matriculation in that program; and
  3. Actively offered and available for enrollment by UW-Madison students seeking credit.

Expiration for Proposals

It is imperative the information in Lumen be up to date. Once a course or program proposal is started, it must be submitted to workflow within 6 months (180 days). Once a proposal is in workflow it must be completed within 1 year (365 days). Any proposal that fails to meet these deadlines will be removed (shredded) from the proposal system. It is the responsibility of the submitter to ensure the proposal moves through the approval process in a timely manner.

Related UW–Madison Documents, Web Pages, or Other Resources

External References

Approval Authority

Vice Provost for Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research

Policy Manager

Vice Provost for Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research


Associate Director, Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research -- Michelle Young, MEYOUNG@WISC.EDU, (608) 262-2143

Effective Date

Source: View policy UW-1090 in the UW-Madison Policy Library


The Lumen suite of tools provides UW-Madison with a single source of truth related to courses and curriculum. Guide, the academic catalog of all curricular offerings, is a legal binding agreement with students that displays the requirements for completing awards (degrees/majors/certificates). All course changes must be made through Lumen Courses and will update in Guide for the term in which the proposal is effective (includes course changes, new courses, and course deactivations/discontinuations). All course proposals are for a future term, except for discontinuations which will always need to be for the current term. All curricular changes must be made through Lumen Programs/Structures to be published in Guide effective the term in which they publish (June is effective fall, October is effective spring, January is effective summer). Curricular changes through Lumen are proposed for a future term; no changes will be retroactive. Non-governed content is updated annually. See below for corresponding governance approval decisions relating to the single source of truth. Guide publishes once a year, with two mid-cycle updates which allow changes for critical revisions to programs, and course updates.

ACPRAC Approved Policies Related to Designation of Guide/Lumen as the Single Source of Truth:

  • Guide Approved Language for New or Discontinued Programs
  • Guide Tab Structure
  • Guide Updating Principles by Tab
  • Rules for Including Academic Pages in the Guide
  • Adding and Removing Pages in Guide
  • Promotional Pages
  • Mid-cycle Updates
  • Course Draw Principles
  • Course List Principles for Inclusion/Display in the Guide
In 2023, these policies were condensed into two; one for Guide content and the other for Lumen content.

Single Source of Truth Task Force – Rationale for Single Source of Truth

In 2013, a Single Source Task Force (Single Source Force) was chartered by Provost Paul DeLuca Jr. "[t]o recommend a coordinated process for creating and managing a usable and accessible curricular and academic policy repository that will be rendered to create a student facing undergraduate catalog. The recommendations will be designed with student needs in mind first, yet also serve advisors and other users."

The Final Report and Recommendations, with supplemental documentation requested by the project sponsors, was presented to Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf in May 2015 for consideration to next steps (presented at the 19 May 2016 University Academic Planning Council meeting). In August 2015, Provost Mangelsforf reviewed and approved the purchase of an enterprise system that would become the single source of truth. To provide structure and guidance, the provost placed Jocelyn Milner, Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs, and Scott Owczarek, University Registrar, in charge of the project. The joint ownership, initially called UW-Madison Academic and Curricular Repository (MARC), later became known as Lumen Sponsors.

Benefits of the single source of truth:
  1. Data Integrity
    1. A fully integrated new system with a well-designed database will ensure the integrity and consistency of all academic program and policy information across multiple platforms and publications.
  2. Efficiency
    1. When all information is stored in one well-defined database, it is easier for users to retrieve needed information. In addition, automatic workflow eliminates most of the manual steps involved in the current processes, making those processes more efficient and cost effective. Users can spend their time on more productive activities instead of on outdated, manual workflow processes, manual reentry of data, etc.
  3. Meet Current User and Customer Expectations
    1. With the current changes in higher education, funding losses and available technology, a move to an integrated system would streamline many cumbersome operational processes and allow UW-‐ Madison to stay current in the higher education market.
  4. Compliance with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
    1. The new integrated system will support clear, accurate, and consistent publication of program/course expectations and requirements to meet HLC accreditation criteria.
  5. Provide Students with Consistent and Easy to Access Information
    1. Having one source of information would improve the student experience. Students would no longer need to consult with advisors, assistant deans etc. to learn about and/or verify standard academic policies and procedures. They would be provided with clear, reliable information about program requirements and campus resources. This may promote better planning and improve time to degree.
  6. Align with Institutional Priorities
    1. The current strategic plan calls for the University of Wisconsin–Madison to be a model, public university in the 21st century. Having a well-‐ designed, efficient system for providing curricular and academic policy data and information will be central to achieving that goal. The university also endeavors to create the best possible environment in which our people can carry out their responsibilities to the university. Automating manual, repetitive tasks will allow faculty and staff to devote more of their time to higher value, creative and innovative tasks.

Keywordssingle source   Doc ID106916
OwnerMelissa S.GroupLumen and Guide
Created2020-10-30 12:40:45Updated2023-06-05 15:12:59
SitesLumen and Guide
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