I can think of two possible ways in which a new department is born: one, the university decides to start teaching a certain subject, and in the other, an existing department splits into two (e.g. department of physics and astronomy -> department of physics + department of astronomy). If the answer in these two are different, please say so and I will split this question into two.
- Clearly the initiative must come from a senior university administrator. Who though - the chancellor? The vice chancellor? The dean of the faculty?
- Starting a new department is presumably very expensive. Where does the university find the money? Do new departments usually only start when there is a sudden source of funding (e.g. ___ big new discovery leading to a massive surge in student interest + external funding in the field)? Or do universities spend years saving money before starting a department?
- Once the decision is made to go ahead, how does the university go about it? Do they hire a new professor who works in the field, provide her with a budget, and let her hire everyone else? Or do they decide on every individual hire by committee, which is not always made up of people expert in the field or affiliated withe the university?