Tenure, Indefinite Status and Shared Governance at UWM

June 10, 2015

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As the proposed biennial state budget advances we have been faced with enormous challenges with respect to the anticipated cuts to the UW System, as well as changes to how we currently operate and uphold our valued tenets of shared governance, tenure and indefinite status. These are changes that have very direct and personal impact – on our climate, our operations, and our own futures.

Since the Board of Regents vote last Friday to preserve tenure in its policies, I have been discussing how we will adapt and uphold shared governance, tenure and indefinite status with our governance groups, our colleagues at UW-Madison and other campuses, and UW System. I am committed to shared governance as is all of UWM administration. We will find ways in the future to partner effectively with all of our governance groups and to operate in a manner that is consistent with legislative language.

These are pivotally important issues for the future of our campus. Let me reiterate that without our faculty and staff, we cannot teach, conduct research or engage in the community. With this message, I share updates on what we are doing to address the proposed changes to tenure and indefinite status. An overriding concern with the tenure change proposed by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is that the conditions under which tenured faculty could be dismissed have been broadened.

As our colleagues at UW-Madison have done, UWM’s University Committee plans to assemble a faculty working group to develop recommendations for tenure policies and procedures at UWM in the event that Section 39 of the Omnibus motion is adopted by the Legislature. Updates will be available from the University Committee News website. I am committed to working with the UC group to develop recommended policies that are much needed, and that can ultimately be adopted by faculty governance bodies in the fall.

The Academic Staff Committee, along with the administration, has been engaged in activities to address the JFC’s recommendation (Section 40 of the Omnibus motion) that indefinite status no longer be granted to any academic staff effective July 1, 2015 and all probationary academic staff be converted to fixed-term contracts also effective July 1, 2015. We are encouraging legislators to reconsider their actions on indefinite status and allow the Board of Regents to establish policies related to academic staff appointments through the new University Personnel System.

Absent any immediate change to the proposal, we have worked to ensure that indefinite status is conferred for staff who were already approved for that status but which implementation date would have ordinarily occurred after July 1, 2015. In addition, measures are underway to have all steps in the indefinite status review process completed for individuals who have files that have been approved by their supervisors and forwarded to the Secretary of the University by today or tomorrow (according to timelines established by the relevant academic staff review committees). This is a highly accelerated timeline given that the review process normally takes months.

To remove uncertainty should the Legislature adopt section 40, we are recommending that, to address the required contract conversion, units issue two-year, fixed-term renewable contracts for those individuals for whom it is not possible to attain indefinite status before July 1, 2015 given the constraints I just mentioned. Appointment lengths are at the discretion of Deans and division heads; however, I do strongly urge all to consider the two-year fixed-term renewable contract versus one-year contracts.

Please know that our advocacy work in Madison continues on behalf of students, faculty and academic staff, and for the future financial state of our institution. I will continue to update you as we move forward.

Best regards,

Mark A. Mone