First Approved Date: June 30, 1997

Last Revision Date: November 11, 2022

I. Background

Motivated by the prospect of improved effectiveness or efficiency or by increasing fiscal constraints, universities have over the years moved to consolidate certain services and equipment in single centers or locations on their campuses. Research centers for interdisciplinary faculty use, media production centers are but a few examples.

Opportunities for cooperative or single-manager type efforts within a system of universities are not unlike intra-university opportunities, but they are somewhat more difficult to accomplish. Factors of size and distance are more serious, as are the difficulties posed by multiple administrative jurisdictions. The values of institutional autonomy within a system seem more intransigent than those of intra-campus college/departmental autonomy.

Prior to and since merger, System Administration has provided a limited set of “cooperative services” to groups of institutions (e.g., architectural and engineering services, risk management, travel, etc.). UW Processing Center continues to provide some centralized business services to institutions and is funded accordingly.

Beyond these examples, the UW System has necessarily approached the problem of administrative design for systemwide, regional or interinstitutional functions on a case-by-case basis.

Following are principles which should be used by the System and its institutions pertaining to systemwide, regional and interinstitutional facilities or service centers which serve a number of persons, agencies and institutions, both within the UW System and in conjunction with state and federal agencies or programs.

II. Policy

  1. The University of Wisconsin System encourages development of systemwide, regional, or interinstitutional facilities and service centers in those situations where such development can lead to more effective or efficient educational and support service. The system supports assignment of operational responsibilities for such facilities or centers to the institutions they serve. It is equally important that such administrative responsibility be clearly fixed in the interests of efficiency and accountability.
  2. The following general principles are established to guide the design and development of administrative arrangements for systemwide, regional or interinstitutional facilities and service centers:
    1.  Day-to-day administrative and operational responsibility for such agencies should be delegated by both System Administration and the participating institutions to an institution of the UW System or to a governance agency designed by and responsible to the administrative heads of two or more institutions working in cooperation. System Administration should not assume direct management responsibility for facilities or centers, but should maintain passive oversight.
    2. Delegation of primary administrative responsibility to a single institution rather than a combination of institutions is preferred. Administrative responsibility for a center or facility will be best discharged by the administrative organization of the institution having proximity to the facility or core professional staff providing systemwide, regional or interinstitutional services.
    3. An institution having administrative responsibility for a systemwide, regional or interinstitutional function should be accountable to users of or participants in the work of the facility or center in question. Being accountable ordinarily requires the creation of an interinstitutional council or committee to advise on matters of policy and procedures and to receive reports from the institution(s) holding administrative responsibility. Representation of System Administration on such a council or committee, or close liaison with it, is advisable.
    4. An institution having administrative responsibility for a systemwide, regional or interinstitutional facility or center has responsibility for educating its own staff on the mission of the facility or center in question and for eliciting their support for that mission.
    5. Budgets and space inventories for systemwide, regional or interinstitutional facilities or centers under the management of a specific institution should be placed in the budget and inventories of that institution, but should be clearly segregated from the intra-institutional programs of the institution. Requests for extramural funding in support of the activities of such facilities or centers should be routed through the administering institution using established procedures.

III. Compliance

Establishment of facilities or centers which are intended to serve multiple UW institutions must receive approval from the UW System Vice President for Finance and Administration.

*The terms “facilities” and “centers” are used in a generic sense; it is not intended that subsequent activities of this type be limited necessarily to this specific terminology.