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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Faculty committee recommends eliminating Division of International Studies

Members of a faculty committee are recommending UW-Madison eliminate the Division of International Studies and make significant changes to the structure of international programs at the university as a cost-cutting and organizational measure.

The committee’s report said interviews with 72 faculty members indicated there is “widespread confusion” about the function of the DIS, as well as concern about a lack of transparency within the division.

Committee members recommended the functions and majority of staff members within the division be redistributed to existing units on campus, with the Provost’s office gaining oversight of International Academic Programs.

Professor Kristopher Olds said the recommendations would not have any direct impact on students, but rather were intended to make the structure of the international studies programs more efficient.

“There are no direct implications for students—this initiative was focused at improving organizational and governance systems related to international studies and internalization on campus, which should hopefully improve campus life for everyone,” Olds said in an e-mail.

But in a letter to Provost Paul DeLuca, the DIS Leadership team said it was concerned the committee did not use data and analysis to support the recommendations.

“We found the overall tone of the report unnecessarily harsh,” the team said. “We believe that the report represents a skewed view of the Division that does not reflect the perspectives of many faculty and staff across campus who have had positive interactions with the Division.”

The committee formed after the budget for the university’s National Resource Center, typically around $2 million, was cut in half in August.

Chancellor David Ward and the faculty senate executive committee’s Chair Brad Barham said in a letter they will appoint an interim dean to the DIS after current dean Gilles Bousquet leaves to become the interim chancellor of UW-Eau Claire.

After the interim dean is appointed, a governance body will serve as an advisory board to the dean. The board will discuss with campus governance groups and the Provost to review the recommendations and make decisions about implementing them.

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