Chapter 5 – Departmental Faculties

5.01. Department
5.02. Departmental Restructuring – Guidelines and Criteria
5.10. Departmental Faculties: Membership
5.11. Departmental Faculties: Functions
5.12. Joint Governance Appointments
5.13. Affiliations
5.14. Faculty Transfers Between Departments
5.20. Departmental Executive Committees: Membership
5.21. Departmental Executive Committees: Functions
5.22. Delegation of Authority of the Executive Committee
5.30. Departmental Chair: Selection
5.31. Departmental Chair: Duties
5.40. Department-like Bodies


A. A department shall consist of a group of faculty members recognized by the faculty and chancellor, and the Board of Regents, as dealing with a common field of knowledge or as having common or closely related scholarly interests. A department shall be created, substantially restructured, or discontinued by the chancellor after consultation with the University Academic Planning Council, subject to the approval of the Board. Substantial restructuring includes, but is not limited to the merger of departments, the transfer of groups of faculty in or out of departments, and the establishment of department-like bodies. The University Academic Planning Council shall not make any recommendations to the chancellor without obtaining and considering the recommendations of the relevant college/school academic planning councils and deans. The school/college academic planning councils will seek recommendations and approval from affected departmental executive committees and affected individuals a minimum of six months in advance of the proposed actions. Recommendations concerning the establishment of new departments or the substantial restructuring or discontinuance of existing departments shall be reported to and discussed by the senate. Criteria applied to restructuring shall be developed (5.02.) and related to the missions of the university and relevant schools and colleges.

B. Other groups may be designated by the chancellor, after consultation with the University Academic Planning Council and subject to approval by the Board, as equivalent to departments for any of the purposes of these rules.

C. Schools or colleges defined in 3.01. that are not organized into departments shall operate as departments or may, by vote of the school or college faculty, organize in other ways to fulfill the objectives of this chapter.

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A. All program changes of any kind require the same open and transparent process, widespread communication, documentation of concurrence by other interested and affected units, and participation in shared governance as is required to gain approval for a new program. Planning and proposal development will involve consultation and communication with a wide range of academic, administrative, and student support units. The suspension or curtailment of an academic program must be managed so as to minimize any potentially adverse impact on students, on applicants admitted to the program, and on faculty and staff. Appropriate and timely notice must be given to all interested groups. Throughout the planning process faculty and staff should consult with their dean’s office, the director of Academic Planning and Analysis, the Registrar’s Office, the Graduate School, the Office of Undergraduate Advising, student governance groups, and others.

B. All proposals for program restructuring shall include:

  1. An explanation of the precipitating circumstances or rationale for the proposal. Such explanations may be based in the unit’s mission/focus and consequent realignment of resources with those changes, substantial changes/redirection of fields/courses of study, declining faculty and student interest in the field of study, negative assessment of program quality and concern about the ability to deliver programming of acceptable quality to students, budgetary considerations, or other forces.
  2. An explanation and evidence of efforts made to confer with and to notify parties affected by this change. This should include, but may not be limited to: faculty and staff who contribute to the program, academic units that provide resources to support the program, students currently enrolled in the program or who may be reasonably expected to be “in the pipeline” through advising or indication of interest at time of admission, alumni, and any other significant stakeholders.
  3. An assessment of the impact of the change on current students, market demand for students with this education that will not be met in the absence of the program, whether other UW‐Madison programs provide a related educational experience, whether there are similar or related programs offered at other colleges or universities regionally or in the UW System, and what efforts have been made to resolve the situation to allow the program to continue, including the potential for collaboration with other units.
  4. A “teach-out plan” that explains how students will be supported through to completion of their degree. The plan should consider the needs of currently enrolled, prospective, and stopped‐out students and should convey how program quality will be maintained and ensured through the teach‐out period.
  5. Timeline and advance communication plan.
  6. Specification of any related academic components that are to be discontinued or otherwise affected.

C. No proposal to discontinue or restructure an academic program, regardless of its origin or rationale, shall move forward without an affirmative vote of each of the following bodies in this order:

  1. The faculty of the affected department(s).
  2. The school/college governance body, usually the academic planning council (APC).
  3. For undergraduate programs, the University Academic Planning Council (UAPC).
  4. For graduate programs:
    1. the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee (GFEC) and
    2. the UAPC.

D. Proposals that receive approval are reported by the Provost’s Office to all of the impacted UW‐Madison offices (Admissions and Recruiting, Registrar, University Communications, Catalogs, Advising, Graduate School, Madison Budget Office, and so on). The provost also reports the suspension of admissions or discontinuation to UW System Administration in keeping with relevant policy requirements (per UWSA policy on suspending and discontinuing programs, November 2009), which will convey those results to the board.

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All university faculty members as defined in 1.02. holding probationary appointments, tenure appointments, or joint governance appointments in a department shall have the right to vote and otherwise participate in the governance of that department. The departmental executive committee may extend the right to vote and participate in departmental meetings to members of the academic staff (see 1.03.). The departmental executive committee also may invite members of the academic staff to participate in the annual preference balloting for department chair. Invitation to participate in departmental governance is not itself a faculty or academic staff appointment within the meaning of UWS 3 or 10, and therefore is not subject to notice and nonrenewal procedures. Invitation to participate in governance is for a specified term of not greater than three years and is made only by the executive committee (see 5.22.C.). Invitations to participate in governance are renewable.

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The immediate governance of the department is vested in its departmental faculty (as defined in 5.10.) which has jurisdiction over all the interests of the department, including authority to determine all departmental questions that are not vested in the departmental executive committee by 5.20. and 5.21. The faculty of the department shall be responsible for teaching, research, and public service. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition, shall be the default parliamentary manual for all meetings of departments and for their executive committees, but in case of conflict between Robert’s and any rules adopted by those bodies, the latter shall take precedence. Meetings of the departmental faculty shall be consistent with the provisions of the state’s Open Meetings Law.

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A joint governance appointment allows a person who has an appointment to the faculty (under UWS 3) or the academic staff (under UWS 10) in one department to participate in the governance of another department without a continuing commitment or tenure relationship with that department. A joint governance appointment is not itself a faculty or academic staff appointment within the meaning of UWS 3 or 10 and therefore is not subject to notice and nonrenewal procedures. A joint governance appointment is for a specified term of not greater than three years and is granted only upon the affirmative recommendation of the departmental executive committee to its dean. Joint governance appointments are either “joint executive appointments” or “joint departmental appointments” as defined below. “Continuing commitment appointments” are governed by the provisions of 7.19. of these rules.

A. A joint executive appointment in a department confers voting membership in the department and its executive committee and can be granted only to tenured faculty.

B. Joint departmental appointments confer voting membership in the department, but not in the executive committee, and can be granted to both probationary and tenured faculty and to members of the academic staff.

C. For academic staff appointed in more than one department, invitation to participate in departmental votes and meetings (5.10.) in one department does not automatically give those privileges in any other department.

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An affiliation allows a faculty member or a member of the academic staff to be associated with a department without governance rights or a continuing departmental commitment. Affiliations may be granted by the departmental executive committee to probationary and tenured faculty and to academic staff for a specified term of not greater than three years.

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A faculty member may request transfer of his or her department’s continuing commitment in his/her tenured appointment on professional or academic grounds. In considering such a transfer, those involved should take into account the programmatic interests of the faculty member, the affected departments, and the school(s) or college(s) concerned.

A transfer of a department’s continuing commitment to a faculty member requires the concurrence of the faculty member proposing the transfer, the executive committees of the respective departments, and the approval of the appropriate administrative officer(s). When a proposed transfer involves a single school/college, the dean is the appropriate administrative officer. When a proposed transfer involves a unit outside a single school/college, in addition to the deans and executive committees, the approval of the chancellor or his/her designee must also be sought. In the event that the executive committees or dean(s) directly affected do not agree, the chancellor or his/her designee will seek to negotiate a final settlement after consultation with the University Committee and the appropriate academic planning council(s). In no case, however, can a continuing departmental commitment to a faculty member be made without the consent of the majority of the accepting departmental executive committee.

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A. Each department or its functional equivalent has an executive committee consisting of:

  1. All members of the department who are associate professors or professors and to whom the department has a continuing commitment of one-half time or more.
  2. Professors and associate professors in the department to whom the department has a continuing commitment of less than one-half time, but for whom that department was the principal sponsor of the appointment. (See Chapter 7 of these rules.)
  3. Other faculty members having tenure who have been granted joint executive appointments by action of that executive committee. (See 5.12.A.)

B. Members of an executive committee who are on leave may participate in its decisions insofar as participation is feasible in the judgment of the executive committee.

C. Faculty members who retire and are appointed subsequently by the department in which they held tenure to an academic staff position totaling at least 20% of a full-time academic year appointment may be granted, by that departmental executive committee, membership on the executive committee during the academic year in which they hold that academic staff appointment. (See also 7.31.B.)

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A. The departmental executive committee has authority to make recommendations concerning faculty appointments, recruitment, leaves, nonretentions, dismissals, promotions, and salaries and other departmental budget matters, which are transmitted through the chair to the dean.

B. In schools in which departmental structures do not exist, executive committees shall have the same authority to make recommendations to the dean concerning appointments, nonretentions, dismissals, promotions, salaries, and other budget matters, as departmental executive committees described in subsection A.

C. Departmental executive committees shall have the power to review and make recommendations concerning the appointment, recruitment, nonretention, dismissal, promotion, appointment to indefinite status, or salary of academic and university staff and other persons appointed within the department itself; or, for duties not departmentally administered, whenever those personnel actions affect the instructional activities or budget of the department.


  1. The departmental executive committee shall provide for the periodic review of the performance of every tenured faculty member as indicated in 7.17. of these rules.
  2. The departmental executive committee shall provide in written form, to its associate professors, the department’s expectations for promotion to full professor, and periodically, either as a part of the review referenced in 5.21.D.1. or separately, shall consider each of its associate professors’ progress toward  promotion to full professor status and shall inform her/him of the outcome of that consideration.
  3. The departmental executive committee shall provide for the annual written evaluation of every probationary faculty member beginning with the second year of the initial appointment (see 7.05. of these rules). In a year in which a renewal/promotion review (see 7.06. of these rules) is being carried out, this evaluation shall normally be part of that review.
  4. The functions of executive committees in reviewing and evaluating faculty shall be performed in an impartial manner. Any member of an executive committee may at any time disqualify himself/herself from any review.

E. The departmental executive committee shall ensure that affected probationary faculty members shall be kept informed of any changes in departmental goals or other circumstances which alter the opportunity for promotion to tenure.

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A. The executive committee may, by annual vote, delegate to a subcommittee or to the chair the authority to make recommendations with respect to any or all of the following matters, except as noted in 5.22.C.:

    1. salaries;
    2. faculty recruitment;
    3. nonfaculty personnel actions;
    4. equipment and supplies.

B. The departmental executive committee may delegate to the full professors of the department the responsibility to communicate the department’s expectations for promotion to the rank of full professor, and the authority to make such recommendations.

C. The executive committee may not delegate to a subcommittee or the chair the following:

  1. Authority to make recommendations on probationary faculty appointments;
  2. Authority to make recommendations on retention or nonretention of probationary faculty;
  3. Invitation or renewal of invitation to academic staff to vote and participate in departmental meetings as allowed in 5.10.;
  4. Invitation or renewal of invitation to academic staff to participate in annual preference balloting for departmental chair as allowed in 5.10.;
  5. Authority to make recommendations for the appointment of academic staff to indefinite status, or for the conferral of modified professorial titles to academic staff.

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A. All members of a department as defined in 5.10. and 5.20. and those members of the academic staff who have been invited to participate in the annual preference balloting, shall be given the opportunity to express their preference for chair each year by secret ballot, and all ballots shall be transmitted by the departmental chair to the dean. The department may by annual vote authorize a committee to count the votes before the ballots are transmitted to the dean. A voting member of the departmental faculty who is on leave is eligible to participate in the balloting, but not by proxy.

B. If the dean does not wish to appoint the faculty member who received at least a plurality for chair, the dean – after consulting the department, the chancellor, provost, and the University Committee, and with approval of the provost after he/she considers the recommendations of the University Committee – may appoint a chair from among the tenured members of the department, or may appoint a tenured member of the faculty who is not a member of the department. In exceptional cases, following consultation with the department, the chancellor, provost, and the University Committee, and with approval of the provost after he/she considers the recommendations of the University Committee, the dean may appoint an assistant professor. The dean shall discuss the reasons for his/her action with the department, the University Committee, and the provost.

C. If the chair is an assistant professor, or not a member of the department, ad hoc arrangements shall be made in consultation with the dean, the provost, and the University Committee for the operation of the executive committee.

D. The term of office of a departmental chair is one year, but there is no limit to the number of terms that may be served.

E. A unit which is not a department, but which functions as a department for budgetary or faculty personnel matters under 5.01.B. or C. and/or 5.21.B. may have an administrative head who is not subject to the previous provisions of this section. The faculty members of such units may, at their option, have the opportunity to evaluate their administrative head. Such evaluation shall be in a form and procedure agreed to by the unit faculty and shall provide for anonymity.

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The chair of the department has the following duties:

A. Serves as the official channel of communications for all matters affecting the department as a whole, between the department and the chancellor, the dean, other university officials, or departments.

B. Calls meetings of the departmental faculty and of the executive committee and presides over the meetings. He/She shall call a meeting at the request of any two members of the department. Each department shall meet at least once every semester.

C. Has charge of all official correspondence of the department and of all departmental announcements in the catalogue or other university publications.

D. Determines that all necessary records of teaching, research and public service of the department are properly kept and are always accessible to the proper authorities.

E. Reports to the dean regarding the activities and needs of the department.

F. Has responsibility for all departmental supplies.

G. Submits new courses, major revisions of existing courses, and deletion of courses proposed by the department for action by the school/college and the University Curriculum Committee.

H. Takes action in case of emergency pending a meeting of the department or its executive committee.

I. In general, acts as the executive of the department.

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A group of faculty who are not all in the same department but who share responsibilities for departmental functions as defined in 5.11. or departmental executive committee functions as defined in 5.21. constitute a department-like body. Every such body shall observe the relevant provisions of Chapter 5. Questions concerning the interpretation of this provision shall be resolved by the University Committee.

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