Waivers: Tenure Clock Extensions, Leaves of Absence, Conversions, Dual Roles and Track Changes

The University Committee hears requests for waivers (previously called rule waivers) of Faculty Policies and Procedures (FPP) as indicated in the panels on the right. Any questions regarding waivers not addressed by the guidelines should be referred to the secretary of the faculty.

The University Committee generally meets every Monday afternoon during the fall and spring semesters and as needed throughout the summer and during breaks. The committee tries to accommodate all requests in as timely a fashion as possible. Departments and deans are requested to submit requests as soon as a need is known. Generally speaking, requests received by the secretary of the faculty by mid-week will be included on the next Monday’s agenda.

[Revised August 2020]

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Tenure clock extensions for faculty impacted by the COVID-19 crisis

For Assistant Professors (tenure track, CHS and clinical) employed at UW-Madison as of March 25, 2020 whose mandatory review date is after December 31, 2020 or who started their appointments during summer 2020 or the 2020-2021 academic year.

Faculty may request an extension of the tenure clock as a result of the COVID-19 crisis due to personal and/or professional reasons. Extensions will be granted for a full year. The presumption will be that COVID-related requests will be approved unless further information is required to process them. The University Committee has declared a blanket approval of these requests.

Requests should be received prior to January 1, 2021 (June 1, 2021 for faculty who start in the spring 2021 semester). Faculty are encouraged to submit their requests as soon as possible.

Process for Request:
The probationary faculty should inform their mentoring/review committee of the request (or department chairs for new faculty). Once they have consulted their committee, the probationary faculty should send an email to the Office of the Provost (provost@provost.wisc.edu) and copy their department chair, their mentoring/review committee, and the dean of their school/college, requesting the extension and noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to curtail it have caused limitations (either personal or professional) to their research, teaching and service that are beyond their control. The email should have a subject line of “COVID-19 Extension Request_last name” and include an attachment with an explanation no longer than one single-spaced page.

The memo extending this option to incoming assistant professors is here. The original memo is available here. Questions regarding this new guidance should be sent to the Secretary of the Faculty.

For Assistant Professors (tenure track, CHS and clinical) employed at UW-Madison as of March 25, 2020 whose mandatory review date is on or before December 31, 2020

Reviews for tenure and promotion for probationary faculty with mandatory review dates of December 31, 2020 or before will continue as scheduled, because the reviews are based on work completed before the COVID-19 crisis.

If you believe your situation may warrant an extension, please contact the Secretary of the Faculty.

Tenure clock extensions (not including a leave of absence or temporary assignment)

For extensions of the tenure clock due to the COVID-19 crisis see panel above, and for extensions for birth/adoption, see panel below.

Requests based on

  • disability or chronic illness, (including infertility treatments or stillbirth)
  • elder or dependent care
  • circumstances beyond the control of the faculty member (FPP 7.04.H.2.)
  • significant and substantial change in duties (FPP 7.04.H.3.)

are reviewed by the University Committee and forwarded to the provost. FPP 7.04.H.2. allows for more than one request for reasons of elder or dependent care obligations, disability or chronic illness, or circumstances beyond the control of the faculty member when those circumstances significantly impede the faculty member’s progress toward achieving tenure. However, the total, aggregate length of time for all requests granted to a probationary faculty member under FPP 7.04.H.2 ordinarily shall be no more than one year.

This provides flexibility for departments/schools/divisions and the University Committee to review multiple requests from an individual on a case by case basis.

As stated in FPP 7.14.E., the department’s review and decision whether to recommend a probationary faculty member for promotion with tenure should not be based on the candidate’s record over calendar years, but on the probationary period only.

Confidentiality of medical information:
See the panel below for information on maintaining confidentiality for tenure clock extension requests for reasons of disability or illness.

Process for Request:
All requests for tenure clock extensions should document that the situation significantly will or has impeded the faculty member’s progress toward achieving tenure. The following material should be sent using the form below to the secretary of the faculty for transmittal to the University Committee and eventual referral to the provost.

  • Correspondence from the probationary faculty member documenting the circumstances, including dates of occurrence or anticipated timeline of events impacting progress toward tenure. (If the request is for reasons of disability or illness, the probationary faculty member is not required to disclose the nature of the illness or details of the medical condition in this letter. See “Confidentiality of medical information” in the panel below.)
  • The faculty member’s current curriculum vitae
  • Letter from the guidance (mentor) committee supporting the request
  • Letter from the chair/director/dean including
    • Date and the results of the executive committee vote (or its delegate, FPP 5.22.A.)
    • Department’s rationale for supporting the request
    • Relevant supporting documentation, which would include the Divisional Disability Representatives (DDR)’s assessment if the request is for reason of disability/medical condition
    • Ending date of the probationary period and the mandatory review date, both those in effect at the time of the request and what they would be if the extension is granted
  • Signed and dated endorsement of the relevant dean (can be included on the chair/director’s letter)

Tenure clock extension for birth or adoption

Faculty may request an extension of the tenure clock as a result of childbirth or adoption (FPP 7.04.H.1.). These requests should be directed to the provost and are not reviewed by the University Committee. Requests must be made within 12 months of the birth/adoption. These extensions are available to each parent faculty member regardless of gender or sexual orientation for each birth/adoption.

12 month extensions are automatically approved for birth/adoption while an assistant professor

12 month extensions are automatically approved for birth/adoption occurring in the 6-month period before employment begins

6 month extensions are automatically approved for birth/adoption occurring in the 7-12 months before employment begins

Process for Request:
Assistant professors should email their request for an extension to provost@provost.wisc.edu and include the date of birth/adoption.

Leave of absence (includes a tenure clock extension) - Assistant Professors

All requests for leaves of absence that substantially interrupt the ability of a probationary faculty member to establish, within the normal probationary period, a record that would warrant the granting of tenure require the approval of the University Committee (FPP 7.20.) and, by nature, are understood to include a tenure-clock extension (i.e., stop the tenure clock).

Confidentiality of medical information:
Please see the panel below for information on maintaining confidentiality for leaves of absences for reasons of disability or illness.

Process for Request:
The following material should be sent using the form below to the secretary of the faculty for transmittal to the University Committee and eventual referral to the provost.

  • Letter from the requesting faculty member describing the nature of the leave and circumstances necessitating the leave, including dates of occurrence, and present and anticipated timeline of events impacting progress toward tenure. (If the request is for reasons of disability or illness, the probationary faculty member is not required to disclose the nature of the illness or details of the medical condition in this letter. See the “Confidentiality of medical information” panel below);
  • The faculty member’s current curriculum vitae;
  • Letter from the guidance (mentor) committee supporting the request;
  • Letter from the chair/director/dean including the following:
    • Date and results of the executive committee vote (or its delegate, FPP 5.22.A.);
    • Department’s rationale and circumstances approving the leave (including the Divisional Disability Representative (DDR) assessment if the request is for reason of disability/medical condition);
    • Expected impact on the department;
    • Leave history of the requesting faculty member for the past five years;
    • An assessment of the likelihood that the faculty member will return to campus at the end of the leave;
    • If not otherwise obvious, the letter should detail how the nature of the leave is sufficiently different from traditional faculty activities that it will constitute an interruption of the tenure clock.
    • Ending date of the probationary period and the mandatory review date, both those in effect at the time of the request and what they would be if the extension is granted;
  • Signed and dated endorsement of the relevant dean (can be included in the chair/director’s letter).

Temporary assignment (does not include a tenure clock extension) - Assistant Professors

A temporary assignment for probationary faculty is similar to a leave of absence, but it does not interrupt the tenure clock (FPP 7.20.). Temporary assignments include leaves where the probationary faculty member is participating in research or instructional activities (and is therefore continuing to establish a scholarly record), but it not on the university payroll. When a temporary assignment exceeds one year, the University Committee’s approval is required.

Process for Request:
The following material should be sent using the form below to the secretary of the faculty for transmittal to the University Committee and eventual referral to the provost.

  • Letter from the requesting faculty member describing the nature of the leave;
  • Faculty member’s current curriculum vitae;
  • Letter from the guidance (mentor) committee supporting the request;
  • Letter from the chair/director/dean including:
    • Date and the results of the executive committee vote (or its delegate, FPP 5.22.A.);
    • Department’s rationale and circumstances for approving the leave;
    • Expected impact on the department;
    • Relevant supporting documentation;
    • Leave history of the requesting faculty member for the past five years;
    • Assessment of the likelihood that the faculty member will return to campus at the end of the leave;
  • Signed and dated endorsement of the relevant dean (this can be included on the chair/director’s letter).

Leave of absence - Tenured faculty

For tenured faculty members, leaves of absence that exceed one year or the equivalent of three semesters in three years require the approval of the University Committee FPP 7.20

Confidentiality of medical information:
See the panel below for information on maintaining confidentiality for leaves of absences for reasons of disability or illness.

Process for Request:
The following material should be sent using the form below to the secretary of the faculty for transmittal to the University Committee and eventual referral to the provost.

  • Letter from the requesting faculty member describing the nature of the leave;
  • Faculty member’s current curriculum vitae;
  • Letter from the chair/director/dean including:
    • Date and the results of the executive committee vote (or its delegate, FPP 5.22.A.);
    • Department’s rationale and circumstances for approving the leave (including the Divisional Disability Representative (DDR)’s assessment if the request if for reason of disability/medical condition);
    • Expected impact on the department;
    • Relevant supporting documentation;
    • Leave history of the requesting faculty member for the past five years;
    • Assessment of the likelihood that the faculty member will return to campus at the end of the leave;
  • Signed and dated endorsement of the relevant dean (this can be included on the chair/director’s letter).

Conversion of probationary faculty appointments to academic staff and hiring of former probationary faculty into academic staff positions

In order to ensure that the hiring of former probationary faculty into other roles does not circumvent the tenure process (FPP 7.06.C.), all conversions of probationary faculty appointments into academic staff appointments and all hires of former probationary faculty into other positions must be approved by the University Committee. Conversions must also be approved by the provost.

The University Committee requests clear documentation that the appointment to the academic staff is temporary in nature (e.g., to cover teaching in critical courses until a new faculty member can be hired) or different in nature from a faculty position (e.g., appointment to a purely administrative position that is not normally filled by a faculty member). Former probationary faculty hired into academic staff positions are subject to all university open recruitment rules and the academic staff position should not be substantially similar to or connected to the former assistant professor role. Such academic staff appointments might occur at the level of the department, the college, or within an institute or center and would be initiated, respectively, by a department chair, a dean, or a director.

Process for Request:
The following documentation should be submitted using the form below to the secretary of the faculty for transmission to the University Committee.

  • Letter to the University Committee from the chair, director, or dean describing the reasons for the waiver and the nature and length of the proposed appointment;
  • Candidate’s current curriculum vitae;
  • In those cases where the new appointment is to be made at the departmental level or within an institute or center, a report of the date and vote of the executive committee (or its delegate, FPP 5.22.A.), or the equivalent in an institute or center, and signed and dated concurrence endorsement of the relevant dean are required.

Dual role appointments for academic staff - Regular waiver

A dual role academic staff appointment is one in which an academic staff member holds a full-time appointment in one role and subsequently, is appointed to a second role. For example, an academic staff member holds a “scientist” appointment. This appointment represents a “research” role. Later, it becomes apparent that the scientist has unique qualifications to teach a course or courses. This appointment represents a “teaching” or instructional role. In this example the dual role is teaching and research. A dual role academic staff appointment also exists when one person holds two separate part-time positions in different roles, such as a 50% outreach appointment and a 50% researcher appointment. Such appointments require University Committee approval (FPP 1.02.B., FPP 1.03.A., FPP 8.02.). The University Committee wishes to ensure that the distinction between faculty – whose responsibilities include instruction, research, outreach, and administration – and academic staff –whose responsibilities typically are limited to one of those areas – remains clear. The University Committee welcomes requests for waivers for up to three years for academic staff members to take on a second area of responsibility, particularly in the case of those who have the ability to serve a unit’s teaching mission. Units should show a demonstrated need, and can ensure that in waiving the rule they are able to maintain a clear distinction between faculty and academic staff responsibilities. 

Blanket waivers (see panel below) may be requested for summer teaching or research, individualized instruction and short-term teaching. All other situations should follow the process below.

Process for Request:
To request a dual role waiver, submit the following using the form below to the secretary of the faculty for transmission to the University Committee. (Departments in the College of Letters & Science should direct these requests to Cheryl Adams Kadera, cheryl.adamskadera@wisc.edu, for review/approval prior to submission to the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty. Departments in the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences should direct these requests to Carol Hillmer, carol.hillmer@wisc.edu, for review/approval prior to submission to the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty.)

  • Academic staff member’s job description prior to the rule waiver;
  • Academic staff member’s current CV;
  • Letter from chair/director describing:
    • Reason for the waiver;
    • Identify whose position, if any, the academic staff member will replace;
    • Expected length of time that the waiver will be in place (one semester, one year, or more than one year up to three years);
    • How the department will address the problem that it is solving through the dual appointment once the term of the waiver is complete;
    • The sources of funding for the position (e.g., 101, 133, 144) and how the academic staff member’s total percentage effort is spent (research, teaching) relative to those funds.
  • Letter from the academic staff member demonstrating their willingness to take on the new responsibility.

Dual role appointments - Blanket waivers (summer research or teaching; individualized instruction, short-term teaching)

Certain limited dual role situations are covered by a blanket waiver form. The four situations covered by the blanket waiver are:

  • researchers teaching during summer term
  • instructors being paid to conduct research during summer term
  • individualized instruction assignments
  • short-term teaching assignments.

Process for Request:
The appropriate version of the blanket waiver form may be completed online and routed to the department chair and dean’s office for review. These requests are submitted to the secretary of the faculty and automatically approved by the University Committee.

Faculty Appointment Policies (including track transfers) for the School Medicine and Public Health 

Faculty track transfer policy for the School of Veterinary Medicine

Confidentiality of Medical Information

If a waiver is requested for reasons of disability or illness, the chair/dean/director may contact the relevant Divisional Disability Representative (DDR) to request medical information to support the request. (Each school, college, and division has designated a DDR who is responsible for gathering any medical or confidential information required). The chair/director/dean will work directly with the DDR who will make any requests for medical information. A faculty member may be required to provide the DDR with verification of a disability or medical condition from a treating specialist. The DDR will work with the chair/director/dean and the faculty member to make an individualized assessment of the precise work-related limitations resulting from the disability or illness, the nature of the problem that is generating the request, and the condition’s impact on progress toward tenure. The DDR will communicate with—and make a recommendation to—the department chair/dean/director regarding the request. The chair/director/dean then will consult with the executive committee to decide on the waiver request. The DDR will share with the chair/director/dean and executive committee only what is essential for them to know to make a final determination on the waiver request. The executive committee will be reminded that all confidential information should not be discussed or commented on outside of closed session. No information or question regarding the disability, medical condition, or medical information, however slight, should be mentioned/posed to any other party or to the person requesting the leave except through the DDR. The DDR will file all medical and confidential information in the confidential medical files, separate and outside of the departmental or school/college personnel file.

NOTE: When chairs are preparing the cases and dossiers of assistant professors for tenure and promotion, chairs should note any extensions of the probationary period in the chair’s letter; however, to maintain confidentiality, chairs should not cite the reasons for the extensions, regardless of the reason.

[For additional information on disability accommodation, see UW Faculty Document 1159b]