UW Graduate School

Structure & Oversight for Graduate School Programs

This page describes structure and oversight specific to  Graduate School interdisciplinary programs.

Interdisciplinary Faculty Committee/Group Oversight

The Dean of the Graduate School has authority over Graduate School interdisciplinary committees and interdisciplinary groups. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Planning is the Dean’s designate regarding matters of ongoing program oversight. The Director of Interdisciplinary Programs works directly with the interdisciplinary program directors and staff to support and supervise the programs.

Interdisciplinary Committee/Group Formation and Status

The Dean of the Graduate School formally appoints Graduate School interdisciplinary committees and interdisciplinary groups at the request of a group of Graduate Faculty. These faculty serve as the committee or group members, nominate a chair, and vote to select additional members. Group and committee membership is limited to members of the Graduate Faculty. Graduate School Memo 5 describes this process, as outlined in more detail below.

Interdisciplinary Committees

An interdisciplinary committee consists of a group of graduate faculty that does not offer a graduate curriculum, coursework, or degree or certificate program. An interdisciplinary committee may initiate development of a new graduate degree or graduate certificate program.

An interdisciplinary committee is normally appointed for a period of three years. Reappointment is at the discretion of the Dean of the Graduate School and based on recommendation from the interdisciplinary committee at the end of the appointment period. The reappointment request includes an updated membership list and describes committee activities over the most recent appointment period. If the committee does not request reappointment, the interdisciplinary committee will be made obsolete.

The Dean of the Graduate School appoints the interdisciplinary committee chair as part of the committee appointment letter and at the request of the participating faculty. The committee chair serves for the duration of the committee’s activities or until the committee votes to nominate another chair to the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean of the Graduate School formally appoints the committee chair who has oversight over the committee and reports to the Dean of the Graduate School regarding committee activities.

Interdisciplinary Groups

An interdisciplinary committee formally becomes a qualified graduate-degree-offering interdisciplinary group as soon as the Board of Regents has approved a graduate degree or graduate certificate program offered by the Graduate Faculty of the interdisciplinary group. At that point, the chair of the interdisciplinary committee becomes chair of the interdisciplinary group on an interim basis. The chair’s appointment must be re-confirmed by majority vote of the faculty group and submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School for formal appointment, normally for a 3-year or 5-year renewable term.

The interdisciplinary group chair reports to the Dean of the Graduate School in the same manner that the chair of a department reports to the dean of a departmentalized school or college with regard to the academic program offered by the interdisciplinary group. The chair has the additional responsibility of furnishing information regarding program details and coordinating support for the program with other chairs, directors, and deans who are directly concerned with the operation of the program. The chair is responsible for monitoring the program’s budget and resources in coordination with program staff and the Graduate School.

The interdisciplinary group chair normally serves as the academic program director and Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC). In some cases, the role of the interdisciplinary group chair may be separate from the role of the interdisciplinary program director. When these roles are distinct the program director reports to the group chair, normally serves as the GPC, and manages the ongoing operations and oversight of the degree program in coordination with the chair and group faculty. The academic program director must be a member of the Graduate Faculty.

The interdisciplinary group chair and program director are nominated by the interdisciplinary faculty group by quorum majority vote (in person, electronic, or paper) and subsequently appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School. Transmittal of the recommendation is made in writing from the current interdisciplinary group chair to the Dean of the Graduate School. When a chair or director appointment term is set to expire, the group should initiate a search process well in advance of the expiration date. Reappointment of the current chair/director is possible, pending vote by the interdisciplinary faculty group and reappointment by the Dean of the Graduate School. Leadership transition requires close coordination with the Graduate School’s Office of Academic Affairs & Planning and the Director of Interdisciplinary Programs.

The interdisciplinary group is responsible for ongoing leadership succession planning. This may involve appointment of an associate chair or associate director by the current interdisciplinary group chair.

Membership in Interdisciplinary Committees and Groups

An Graduate School interdisciplinary committee or interdisciplinary group is composed solely of members of the Graduate Faculty. For policy regarding Graduate Faculty, see Graduate School Memo 12.

Following initial appointment by the Dean of the Graduate School, any change to the membership of the interdisciplinary committee or interdisciplinary group (core/voting members) occurs by quorum majority vote of current members and subsequent approval by the Dean of the Graduate School. This approval is confirmed through listing on the Graduate School’s website. An interdisciplinary committee or interdisciplinary group shall notify the Graduate School at least on an annual basis of changes to its membership.

Beyond the requirements listed above and in Graduate School Memo 5, an interdisciplinary group defines the terms of faculty participation in the group and notifies the Graduate School of changes to group membership. The interdisciplinary group is composed of voting members who have responsibility for and authority over admissions, curriculum, student advising and mentoring, and program quality and visibility. The interdisciplinary group may appoint committees to manage operations (executive, admissions, curriculum, etc.). In addition, an interdisciplinary group may identify advisory committees or affiliated faculty who support the program but who are neither Graduate Faculty nor voting members of the interdisciplinary group.