General Questions




How do I get involved in governance?

Every year in November a preference sheet is sent out to all faculty and academic staff from the Secretary of the University's office. The Nominations committee takes the preference sheets and determines who is eligible to run for each office. Elections take place in March.

What are faculty/staff obligations regarding confidentiality of governance activities?

"Confidential university information" means information relating to university financial operations or personnel which is obtained from university records or in the course of official university business and which is not available to the general public upon request. Wis. Admin. Code s. UWS 8.02(6). There is an obligation to keep this information confidential.

Also see SAAP 59: and
UWS 8:

What are the standing governance committees of faculty and academic staff at UWM?

Faculty committees: The standing committees, their charters and rosters can be found at:

More detailed information including the charter, roster, minutes and agendas can be found at:

Academic staff committees: The standing committees, their charters and rosters can all be found at

What is shared governance?

The administration of each campus of the Wisconsin system shares the responsibilities for governing the institution with faculty, academic staff and students. This practice is codified in Chapter 36 of the Wisconsin State Statutes. Chapter 36 is the legislation that created the present University of Wisconsin System. or

What is the role of the faculty, academic staff, and students in the shared governance system?

Section 36.09 (4) of the Wisconsin Statutes states:
The faculty of each institution, subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president and the chancellor of such institution, shall be vested with responsibility for the immediate governance of such institution and shall actively participate in institutional policy development. As such, the faculty shall have the primary responsibility for academic and educational activities and faculty personnel matters. The faculty of each institution shall have the right to determine their own faculty organizational structure and to select representatives to participate in institutional governance.

Section 36.09 (4m) for academic staff:
The academic staff members of each institution, subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president and the chancellor and faculty of the institution, shall be active participants in the immediate governance of and policy development for the institution. The academic staff members have the primary responsibility for the formulation and review, and shall be represented in the development, of all policies and procedures concerning academic staff members, including academic staff personnel matters. The academic staff members of each institution shall have the right to organize themselves in a manner they determine and to select their representatives to participate in institutional governance.

Section 36.09 (5) for students:
The students of each institution or campus subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president, the chancellor and the faculty shall be active participants in the immediate governance of and policy development for such institutions. As such, students shall have primary responsibility for the formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services and interests. Students in consultation with the chancellor and subject to the final confirmation of the board shall have the responsibility for the disposition of those student fees which constitute substantial support for campus student activities. The students of each institution or campus shall have the right to organize themselves in a manner they determine and to select their representatives to participate in institutional governance.

Where can I find policies on grading, religious observances and final exams?

This information is available from the Provost's office and can be found at:


Are governance committees subject to the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law?

They are all subject to WOML and must post their meetings.

For campus bodies other than departments and subunits, this can be done by following the link below:

For department level meetings, this can be done by posting the notice on a departmental bulletin board to which students, faculty and staff routinely have access at least 24 hours before the meeting.

Are minutes taken in closed session?

Motions and votes must be recorded. If you take minutes in closed session, make sure that it is clear that they were taken in closed session so that they are not inadvertently posted or released when they should not be. The extent of details recorded in the minutes is generally governed by departmental practice.

Can you add an item to the agenda after it has been circulated?

Per Robert's Rules of Order, an agenda item can be taken out of order or a new item can be added by suspension of the rules. This requires a 2/3 vote of the committee, or it can be done by unanimous consent. A member of the committee must ask to do this. The Chair cannot depart from the order, only the committee can do this. However, the Chair can entertain a motion to depart from the order.

Your open meeting notice must reflect the meeting's agenda as of the time of giving notice. If you are going to add any item of more than a routine nature that can be taken up as noticed "new business", you should amend your meeting notice, if possible, or save the item for a later meeting when proper notice can be given.

Can you conduct committee business by email?

Committees subject to open meetings law should not discuss or conduct business via email; doing so may create a quorum and without notice, the open meetings law may be violated. No votes should be taken by email for the same reason.

How do I run a governance committee?

The Office of the Secretary of the University will ask an individual to convene the first meeting. The Committee elects a chair. We normally follow Robert's Rules of Order. Support for governance committees is available from the Secretary of the University's office.

What are the rules for conducting a recruitment?

UWM has published a Faculty & Academic Staff Recruitment Guide, which is intended to assist you with the recruitment process and contains policies, procedures, best practices, resource lists, and answers to common questions:

Regulations for recruitment of all categories of employees can be found at the Department of Human Resources website:

The Department of Human Resources has the recommended forms available at:

What are the steps taken to go into closed session?

  1. Public notice must be given
  2. The body first convenes in open session
  3. A member of the body moves that the body convene in closed session, stating the nature of the business to be considered
  4. The chairperson reiterates motion to include the nature of the business and cites the specific exemption under Wis. Stat. s.19.85(1) that provides the authority to close the meeting.
  5. The motion must be passed by a majority vote via roll call or ballot of those present. Some departments may require a 2/3 majority, so please refer to your departmental policies before voting.
  6. The motion and vote are recorded in the minutes such that the vote of each member can be ascertained.

Once a body convenes in closed session it may not reconvene in open session for at least 12 hours, unless public notice of intent to return to open session was given in the original notice of the meeting. Notice may be given by using the form at this link:

The UW System Office of Legal Counsel FAQ about closed meetings is available at:

What information should be contained in the meeting notice?

The notice of the meeting must give the time, date and subject matter of the meeting, including any matter intended for consideration at any contemplated closed session (s. 19.84 (2), Stats.). Because WOML also requires the notice to inform the public of the meeting's agenda, the notice should state more than simply "regular business." Instead, the notice should mention the specific matters about which members of the campus body anticipate discussion, including any closed sessions and the reasons for going into closed session. In addition to listing these specific matters, the notice should include an additional item called "miscellaneous business" to cover matters that members raise spontaneously at the meeting.

What is the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law?

The open meetings law is based on the principle that the public is entitled to the greatest possible information about governmental affairs. The Wisconsin Open Meetings Law (WOML) applies to governmental bodies which includes the campus bodies created by formal action of governmental bodies. It does not include committees appointed by individuals such as department chairpersons or deans. The WOML requires that all meetings of a government body whose purpose is to conduct official business and which has the requisite number of people be open and accessible to members of the public. As a practical matter department committees that are formed by action of the department executive committee need to be posted, while those formed by the Chair do not.

A link to the Wisconsin Open Meeting Law, State Statutes 19.81-19.98 is available at: &jd=ch%2019

For additional guidance on open meetings, please see the Office of Legal Affairs' website:

What rules are used to conduct a department meeting?

We normally use Robert's Rules of Order.

When may a closed session be held?

A closed meeting can only be held for certain limited purposes. The most common purposes related to UWM business and governance are:

  1. Considering the granting or denial of tenure, considering an employee's dismissal, demotion or discipline, or considering the investigation of charges against an individual.

    In all the above cases, the employee under consideration must be given notice of any evidentiary hearing before a final action can take place and before a meeting where final action is taken. The notice must contain a statement that the candidate or employee has the right to demand that the evidentiary hearing or meeting be held in open session.
  2. Considering an employee's employment, evaluation, promotion or compensation, including renewal or non-renewal of contract.
  3. Conferring with lawyers for the university about pending or possible lawsuits involving the university
  4. Deliberations that follow an open judicial or quasi-judicial trial or hearing
  5. Considering financial, medical, social, or personal information that if disclosed might have an adverse effect on the reputation of the person named
  6. Considering the purchase of public property, the investing of public funds or conducting other specified public business whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session.

When should the notice of a meeting be posted?

Notice should be given at least 24 hours before the meeting begins. Less notice can be given in extraordinary circumstances. Please contact the Office of Legal Affairs for help in determining whether you meet an extraordinary circumstances exception.