Workday Student Academic Foundations

Introducing academic units

Academic units (AUs) are the primary organizational structure in Workday Student. They are used to represent schools, divisions or any other entity that admits students, offers programs of study or offers courses.

Academic units are structured together to manage workflows, security access, Workday rule inheritance and reporting. This is called the academic unit structure. Once Workday Student goes live, there will be a single AU structure across Workday at WashU.

“Academic units (AUs) are foundational to the use of Workday Student, and they will have broad impact across WashU,” said Kathy Steiner-Lang, one of the academic foundations functional leads on the Student Sunrise project. “The naming and organization of AUs are critical to ensure a seamless experience for students, faculty and staff. The AUs are highly visible across the system, within student profiles, transcripts, and academic appointment detail, and if they are not correct, this will cause user errors as well as confusion to our students, faculty and general WashU community.”

Academic units today and going forward

In addition to housing foundational academic functions like courses and student enrollment, academic units also house academic appointments for our faculty. This touchpoint with human resources is why an initial academic unit structure was set up when WashU launched Workday HCM in July 2021.

“Our understanding of academic units as the backbone of Workday Student has evolved over time,” said Erin Culbreth, associate provost and executive director for the Student Sunrise project. “Our team realizes how complex and important academic units are, so we have been working with our WashU Workday support team, HR leaders and leaders from each school to review the AU structure. There are some tweaks needed, but everyone has been helpful and engaged in making sure we have a solid foundation upon which the rest of the Workday Student system will be built.”

The example below shows the recommended academic unit structure for McKelvey School of Engineering. The structure reflects the internal reorganization that McKelvey recently implemented. The renaming of the Engineering Communication Center to the Division of Engineering Education will be different from what exists today. This change reinforces that AUs will evolve as the schools change over time.  

Proposed AU structure for McKelvey School of Engineering with change to rename Engineering Communication Center to Division of Engineering education called out in red
Proposed AU structure for McKelvey School of Engineering noting change to rename Engineering Communication Center to Division of Engineering Education in red. Click to enlarge.

Moving to an integrated system like Workday means data and transactions that used to live in separate systems for HR, finance and student will live under one roof. Collaboration and communication between schools, HR and the Student Sunrise project team are essential to ensure academic units are configured correctly in Workday.

“Misrepresenting or misconfiguring the academic unit structure could have downstream impacts on business processes, reporting, integrations and user experience,” noted Mecca Baker, academic process lead on the Student Sunrise project team. “By engaging the schools early in this process and collaborating with our colleagues on the Workday support team, we can create an AU structure that will support the needs of Workday Student and HCM and minimize confusion to students, faculty and the general WashU community.”

Learn more about academic units on our Workday Student 101 web page.