CALS Redesign: Additional FAQs

What is CFI and why is it important?

Credits Follow the Instructor (CFI) is a method for measuring an academic unit’s instructional activity. Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) generates these metrics tied to the instructor of record by multiplying the number of credits students earn from the course by the number of students enrolled in that course. To learn more, read the ABCs of CFI.

From APIR: Under the Credits Follow the Instructor (CFI) method, student credit hours are attributed to the department that pays the salary of the instructor of record. For example, if the Department of Botany (A4813) offers a course under the Subject of Botany (208), and the instructor of record is a professor in Plant Pathology, and is paid under Plant Pathology, then the student credit hours in this particular Botany course “belong” to Plant Pathology. If the course is cross-listed between Botany and Plant Pathology, then the student credit hours still accrue to Plant Pathology.

Total CFI activity within a college accounts for 80% of the instructional portion of the UW–Madison budget model. The model is based on two years of activity with most recent year weighted at twice the value of the prior year (to mitigate impact of extreme fluctuations and emphasize recent activity). Because of a decline in CFI and enrollment, CALS’ instructional budget decreased $141,000 this year (total decrease under budget model for the year = $388,000).

How will the departmental five-year plans be used? How will they mesh with 10-year reviews?

As the primary planning and strategy document for each department, these plans and will be the foundation for the dean making strategic investments across the college. Specifically, future funding requests will be evaluated by looking at how the use of funds aligns with and will advance department strategies outlined in the plans. The plans will be the focal point for the annual meetings between the dean and departments and the dean will also use five-year plans to frame requests for support from the Chancellor’s Office and share success stories with CALS stakeholders.

The plans should aid departments going through 10-year program reviews, which are required by the university and by professional accrediting bodies in some departments. Consistent planning and reporting should make it easier for a department to draft the self-study documents required by the 10-year review process.

The Dean’s Office will prepare a summary of the five-year plans from across the college so that the entire community is able to review the aggregate goals for CALS’s departments. The compilation will be available through eCALS and the project website.

Five-year plans are due by the end of the calendar year.

We want to increase enrollment in CALS by 25% in five years, but where will the students come from? 

Of the 12,000 freshman and sophomores attending UW–Madison, over half of them have not yet declared a major. If we attracted a fraction of that undecided population to declare a CALS major sooner, we would make significant progress toward this goal.

As a college, we graduate significantly more undergraduate students than we enroll as first year students. In other words, students tend to discover all that CALS has to offer after they have already been on campus for two or three years. We could significantly increase our total enrollment, and potentially decrease students’ time-to-degree, by attracting them to their eventual CALS major earlier in their UW–Madison career.

Increasing our enrollment will require a two-pronged approach: We need to attract new students to our majors and attract students enrolled at UW–Madison earlier in their college career. The Office of Academic Affairs is developing strategies to make progress toward these goals.