Committee to assess the organization of international studies at UW-Madison

Feb. 14, 2012

by Stacy Forster

A committee with representatives from across campus is meeting to evaluate the way international studies are governed and organized at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The work of the ad hoc committee, appointed by Interim Chancellor David Ward and University Committee Chair Brad Barham, comes at a time when UW-Madison is asserting itself as a worldwide leader in globalization, offering more educational and research opportunities in areas of international studies than ever before.

“Our commitment to supporting the university’s global presence is so important, it is part of the Wisconsin Idea, our guiding principle,” Ward says.  “From the Chinese Champions Program to the more than 80 languages taught here, international efforts are increasingly critical to our mission, and it is important that we manage them as effectively as possible.”

The cross-disciplinary group includes faculty and staff from a variety of schools and colleges to ensure the university is fully shaping the future of its international activities.

“Over the past decade, internationalization has spread to all parts of campus, so this is a good time to take a fresh look at how these activities are organized and governed,” says Gilles Bousquet, dean of the UW–Madison Division of International Studies and vice provost for globalization.

The committee was formed last week after Barham was approached by a group of more than 100 UW-Madison faculty who work in international studies and language programs. In a letter to Barham, they raised questions about how international studies, including language training, are organized and overseen on campus.

The faculty sought the review in the context of severe cuts to federal Title VI grants, a major source of funding for UW–Madison’s eight National Resource Centers.

“We seek assistance regarding the creation of a mechanism to assess the existing situation and to formulate more effective, efficient and transparent approaches to governance, budgeting, organizational structure and relations,” the letter to Barham said. “Given we are facing significant reductions and even the elimination of state and federal funds, time is of the essence.”

The committee, chaired by Kris Olds, professor of geography, met for the first time on Tuesday, Feb. 7. The group is expected to make recommendations to ensure that faculty and staff participation in governance is reflective of the institution’s values, as well as to improve the effectiveness of the Division of International Studies and the university’s overall international activities.

That report is expected by early April.