Information for Senators

Selection and terms of senators is covered in Faculty Policies and Procedures, 2.04.

Faculty governance structure. The Faculty Senate is our chief governance body, and senators are representatives of the UW-Madison faculty. The University Committee is the executive committee of the Faculty Senate.

The secretary of the faculty supports the University Committee, the Faculty Senate and other governance committees, and oversees those activities for which faculty have primary responsibilities, e.g., divisional committees, and the academic calendar. The secretary of the faculty is also available to any faculty to discuss concerns and give direction to the best method to address those concerns.

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Senate Orientation

Recording of Senate Orientation, September 29, 2021 (MP4)

Goals: Learn about the structure of governance and provide information about responsibilities and best practices for senators and alternates

11:30 am Welcome by Eric Sandgren, University Committee chair

11:35 pm, Faculty and Shared Governance Panel

  • Dan van der Weide, Faculty Senator
  • Erica Halverson, University Committee member
  • Fernando Tejedo-Herrero, University Committee member

12:00 pm Introduction to Faculty Governance by Eric Sandgren, University Committee chair

Role of Shared Governance on Campus

  • Campus Governance Structure
  • Faculty Governance Structure
  • Connection between University Committee (UC) and Senate

12:15 pm Introduction to Senate Meetings by Heather Daniels, Secretary of the Faculty

  • Review of Meeting Agendas
  • Review of Meeting Materials
  • Emails and Communication
  • Role of the Secretary of the Faculty Office


Shared Governance Structure Graphic

Faculty Governance Structure Graphic

Information on Motions & Resolutions

Senators' Responsibilities

  • Senators are the voice for the department in the senate
  • Senators represent their departmental colleagues (1 senator for every 10 faculty)
  • Senators should have a regular place on the departmental meeting agenda and should engage colleagues in discussion about the senate agenda
  • Senators should encourage their colleagues to identify new issues of importance to the faculty
  • Before the senate meeting, senators should:
    • Read the agenda materials
    • Present the issues on the senate agenda to their colleagues at their department meeting and solicit input
    • Be prepared to ask questions and participate in debate


A senator may be represented by their named alternate. Subsequent changes in alternates may occur at any time except in the week preceding a senate meeting, and shall be reported immediately to the district chair and to the secretary of the faculty. In the event an alternate is unable to exercise this function, another named alternate from the same district may do so. A senate seat becomes vacant if a senator is absent (and is not represented by their named alternate) from four consecutive regular meetings of the senate.

The office of senator shall become vacant on incapacity or resignation, or the absence of a senator from four consecutive regular meetings of the senate. The district chair shall call a special election to fill an existing vacancy.


  • Members of the faculty and full-time members of the academic staff may speak at meetings of the senate, but only senators may offer motions, second motions, or vote. When an individual rises to speak at a meeting or to make a motion from the floor, they should state their name and department. Lengthy motions should be given to the secretary in writing so the presiding officer can repeat the motion if necessary during debate.
    • All agenda items are open for discussion by any faculty member present
    • Any issue may be raised during the question period in the early part of the meeting
    • Questions filed in writing at least three days prior to the meeting will be distributed at the door
    • No action may be taken unless an item is on the formal agenda
    • Robert’s rules of order, newly revised 11th edition, govern the proceedings of the senate; senators will be more effective if they are familiar with those rules


  • Registration for attendance: Senators, alternates attending as voting members for absent senators, and University Committee members should scan their university ID or complete a paper form at the door
  • Seating: Senators (or alternates attending as voting members for absent senators) and University Committee members sit in the front section of the auditorium. Votes will only be counted from this section. When a senator is present, their alternate should not sit in the members’ section.

see Faculty Policies and Procedures 2.04.F. for the rule about senate attendance: “The office of senator shall become vacant on incapacity or resignation, or the absence of a senator from four consecutive regular meetings of the senate. The district chair shall call a special election to fill an existing vacancy.”

Meetings are held at 3:30pm on the first Monday of the month. October, November, December, February, March, April, and May:

2021 fall: 272 Bascom
• October 4th
• November 1st
• December 6th

2022 spring: 272 Bascom
• February 7th
• March 7th
• April 4th
• May 2nd

Please send documents for the agenda to the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty (

The agenda and associated documents will be sent to all faculty on the Tuesday prior to each senate meeting, and will be posted: