What is University Shared Governance?

Shared governance is a collaborative decision process between university administration, faculty, staff, and students, all working together to advance the mission of the university as a community dedicated to excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. The intention of shared governance is to promote the best policies that meet the needs of our university community.

Shared governance is defined as processes or practices that maximize the opportunities for input/participation of staff members—at all levels—in discussions, idea sharing, input to the decision-making processes that serves to guide strategic decisions by the organization and institution. It also promotes collaboration, thereby achieving optimal outcomes for the university. Shared governance assures that diverse perspectives and a collective wisdom informs our actions and provides a strong foundation for the success of the institution.

What Shared Governance is not

Shared governance does not mean that all decisions are made by consensus (committees/shared) or that all ideas have merit or will be implemented, rather shared governance promotes the opportunities for every staff member to have input.

How Governance affects me

Participation in governance is valued and necessary for our success. Your participation in governance serves both you and your university by: accelerating your professional development; acquainting you with critical issues affecting the university; demonstrating the commitment of you, your department, and your college to academic leadership; ensuring that more perspectives are brought to bear on matters affecting the university’s continued success.

Key Bodies of the Governance Structure

Senate – The principal academic body. One of the largest and most influential governing bodies at the university. The Senate is composed of faculty, staff, students, and administrators that are peer-elected, volunteer, or appointed. The primary function of the senate is to advise the university chancellor on virtually all campus policy matters and concerns, including but not limited to education, budget, personnel, campus-community, long range plans, facilities, and faculty, staff, and student affairs (subject to the limitations imposed by laws or mandates from the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents or the chancellor.) 

Councils – Councils stand at the second level of governance and exist for the purpose of overall planning and coordination in academic and student affairs.

Commissions – Commissions are third level bodies, whose tasks are (a) to advise the senate and/or council in the work of policy origination, and (b) to implement policies approved by the senate and/or the council. Commissions are not committees of the council; therefore, commission decisions do not require approval by the council before they are enacted.

Committees - The creation of and responsible to the body which creates them. Committees help address the concerns of the various constituencies in the campus community. These committees formulate and review policies to be established by the Senate, review established policies and their administration, and recommend any changes that may be desirable.

We believe that all college and university employees—top tenured faculty, junior faculty, temporary and part-time/adjunct faculty, graduate teaching and research assistants, professional staff with and without faculty rank, the university support staff that keep the educational enterprise going—should have a guaranteed voice in decision-making, and a role in shaping policy in the areas of their expertise.

Contact Information


2400 Ullsvik Hall