Changing the Name of L&S Academic Programs, Majors, Named Options, Departments, and Centers

Requests to formally change the names of academic programs (degrees, majors, options), departments, and units fall under the purview of the L&S Academic Planning Council. Upon college-level approval, these are referred to campus-level governance as well. To ensure that approval processes go smoothly, we encourage early consultation with stakeholders (students, alumni), as well as with departments, schools and colleges that may be affected by the name change. Contact L&S Academic Planning experts for guidance.

Content Expert: Associate Dean Elaine M. Klein (elaine.klein<at>wisc.edu)

Academic Program Name Changes

As research progresses and scholarly fields evolve, the approved name of academic programs may no longer align with the program as it currently exists. Program names can be updated using relatively simple procedures that ensure appropriate oversight via faculty governance, and that administrative areas and processes affected by the changes are informed and aligned with the new name. 

It is useful to discuss program name changes with the Academic Associate Dean and with the Associate Dean for Academic Planning, particularly in cases where consultation across departments or schools/colleges may be required.  

The process follows procedures approved by the University Academic Planning Council, with guidance offered by the Office for Academic Planning and Institutional Research (see Program Proposal: Renaming an Existing Academic Degree/Major ).  Requests are submitted as a change to an existing program, via the Lumen Proposal system. This system guides users through questions about the program to prompt consideration of many factors associated with this type of request.  Changes to program names generally include particular attention to the following issues raised in the Lumen Proposal form: 
  • A justification or rationale for the change.  This justification should be student-centered, and may include information about disciplinary norms, market, or employment expectations. 
  • Evidence of efforts to notify and consult with current students, alumni, and other stakeholders. The form allows correspondence to be attached to the proposal to document stakeholder support.  Consultation outside the department/program is also important if the proposed name or area of study relates to the academic or scholarly interests of another department, school or college. 
  • Proposed plans for implementation of a "turn-key" change (usually in the following academic year, time permitting).
  • Revisions to program requirements, learning outcomes, and assessment procedures related to the new name. 
Following a formal vote by the department or program, the proposal is approved in the Lumen Proposal System which submits it to College review. It is shared widely with L&S Departments before it is presented (along with any comments and testimonials of support), to the L&S Academic Planning Council for college-level approval. Once approved by the L&S APC, the request is forwarded to the University APC; if approved there, the change will be implemented. 

Changes to program names are only implemented in Fall terms, with first publication of the new name aligned with the Guide edition for that term. To facilitate smooth approval, proposals to change program names should be submitted to L&S for consideration no later than the end of the prior Fall term.

Finally, changes to program names do not affect the name of the administrative unit housing the program or any associated subject listings. Each of these actions must be requested and approved though separate proposal processes.

Department/Unit Name Changes

Just as the names of academic programs may need to keep pace with trends in research and scholarship, so, too, may names of departments.  Though less frequent than changes to program names, changes to department or unit names follow governance steps similar to those described above, but with a different proposal process.  The broad overview is provided here; again, it is best to alert the Academic Associate Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Planning about these changes early in the process. 

Proposals to change department/unit names are submitted through a Lumen Structure proposal, which will require a summary of the requested change and attachment of a document (usually a long memorandum) providing the following information:
  • explanation of the request
  • rationale for making the change (this should include discussion of the benefit to students, scholarly and disciplinary norms, market/professional considerations, peer comparisons, etc.)
  • process for consultation with stakeholders (this should include current faculty and staff, current and former students, alumni boards, etc.) 
  • faculty vote approving the proposed change
Approval of the Lumen proposal prompts college-level review. As proposals move forward, they will be circulated across the college and L&S will consult other units. The L&S Academic Planning Council will consider the proposal and any feedback received. Once approved by the L&S APC, the request is forwarded to the Provost for consideration by the University Academic Planning Council. The Secretary of the Faculty and University Committee are informed following UAPC approval, and notice of the name change is read to the Faculty Senate.

Changes to department/unit names affect a variety of business processes and publications, so they are usually implemented in alignment with fiscal year operations. Changes intended for implementation the following year should be submitted to the college no later than November 15, to ensure all governance approval.

Changes to department names do not change the names of academic programs or subject listings housed within them. If such changes are desired, they must be requested through additional proposals, usually submitted following approval of the department name change. 

Changes to department names that reflect a substantial reorganization of the unit fall under other FP&P 5.01; see the L&S APC L&S APC Policy on Creating, Restructuring, or Discontinuing Departments, Programs, and Department-like Units . Substantial restructuring of academic units usually requires consideration by the Faculty Senate. Units being reorganized should be in close contact with their academic associate dean.

Changing the Name of a Subject Listing

Changes to subject listings (formerly known as "timetable departments") must be requested explicitly by a unit, and are best made in consultation with the Assistant Dean for Teaching & Learning Administration. 

Requests to change or move a subject listing are submitted using Lumen Structures.  The formal memorandum will explain the request, provide a rationale for making the change and summarize the process for consultation with stakeholders (e.g., departments with shared courses).  It should also convey formally the faculty vote approving the changes.  This memo is attached to the Lumen Structures form. 

The request follows an approval pathway similar to that of changing the name of an academic program, moving from the department/program level to the college Academic Planning Council, to the Provost and University APC. As with other such requests, it is important to confer with other units (e.g., programs that draw heavily on the listing, similarly named or partner programs, cross-listing partners). The L&S APC will circulate the request within the college and across campus for comment prior to submission to the UAPC.

Due to the long lead time required to prepare the schedule of courses, changes to subject listings require considerable advance planning and implementation may be delayed until the scheduling cycle begins for a future Fall term.

See Also:




Keywords:Naming Renaming Majors Department Name Curriculum APC   Doc ID:20052
Owner:Elaine K.Group:L&S KB
Created:2011-08-29 14:49 CDTUpdated:2022-08-17 13:28 CDT
Sites:L&S KB
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