Tenure is a foundational principle in higher education, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a long tradition of strong tenure protections for its faculty. Tenure provides UW-Madison faculty the freedom to pursue a bold research and teaching agenda, and is in place to ensure that scholarship is allowed to flourish.
Due to some changes in state law and Board of Regents policy in 2015 and 2016, the university’s tenure policies were revised:
- Tenure provisions were moved from state law to University of Wisconsin Board of Regent policy (Faculty Tenure and Post-Tenure Review)
- Tenure policy allows for faculty layoffs due to financial emergency or program discontinuance for educational reasons in extraordinary circumstances, but only with oversight from faculty;
- Post-tenure review includes an administrative oversight role by the schools and colleges, but only with faculty input at the provost level.
With these changes, UW-Madison’s tenure and post-tenure review policies remain as strong or stronger than those at peer institutions. Our tenure policy includes multiple protections for faculty, who continue to have an advisory function to the chancellor as they always have.
Tenure remains a commitment to the faculty member from the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, and is awarded under the authority of the Board. It is an express and binding commitment for an indefinite period, limited only by retirement, dismissal for cause, termination for financial emergency or program discontinuance for educational reasons in extraordinary circumstances, or voluntary resignation. Tenure will not be limited for reasons of conduct, expressions, or beliefs on the faculty member’s part that are constitutionally protected or protected by the principles of academic freedom.
Our revised policies, on both tenure and on post-tenure review, are comparable to those of our peers, and in many instances provide even stronger protections. For more information on UW-Madison’s policies, go to