This document outlines the processes in L&S concerning formal approval requests to add, substantially change, or close centers/institutes housed in the college for purposes of pursuing interdisciplinary work.
Faculty and staff often pursue interdisciplinary activities under the auspices of a center or institute. These tend to be flexible organizational structures that allow department-based individuals to cross department, school, and college boundaries in order to pay focused attention to a particular topic or problem. All centers and institutes that present themselves as formal UW-Madison units must be approved and recognized through formal governance processes. These processes signal the interest and intention of the faculty, which has created guidelines governing creating, changing, and discontinuing these units.
The guidelines for Establishing, Renaming, Reorganizing, or Discontinuing Centers, Institutes, and Center-like Units were approved by the University Academic Planning Council; they are made available online through the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research. These guidelines require that many organizational and administrative aspects of the unit be clearly articulated prior to establishing a center. these topics range from the unit's mission and purpose to detailed arrangements concerning governance, administrative location, and regular evaluation. All of these details must be considered prior to approval; furthermore, t is important for L&S faculty to alert their department chair and associate dean about developing centers, since some of these topics benefit greatly from early discussion. In general, careful planning and thorough discussion lead to a smooth approval. (The link above includes a proposal template that should be used to ensure that all relevant questions are addressed.)
In L&S, the approval route begins at the level of the participating/convening faculty and staff before flowing through the participating departments and sponsoring units to the College. Requests should be addressed to the dean (usually via a memorandum to which a formal proposal addressing the elements required in the guidelines is attached). The dean will ask the appropriate associate dean to present the proposal to the L&S Academic Planning Council. Depending on the proposal and the degree of integration with other school/college units, the L&S Dean will confer with other schools and colleges to seek their comment, support, or concurrence; and in all cases, consultation across the schools/colleges will occur before the request moves to the university level.