Academic Staff Assembly Minutes 11-13-23

Approved 12-11-23



272 Bascom Hall

Monday, November 13, 2023

3:30 to 5:00 p.m.


Provost Charles Isbell called the meeting to order at 3:32 p.m.

Guest: Jennifer Mnookin, Chancellor

Chancellor Mnookin thanked those academic staff who participate in shared governance for their service. She acknowledged the passing of former Provost Paul DeLuca, who chaired Assembly meetings during his time as provost. Chancellor Mnookin discussed the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas. She has had many conversations with students, staff, faculty, and alumni on the impacts of this conflict on our community. The Chancellor met with leaders at the new Center for Interfaith Dialogue and highlighted a statement made by leaders at that center on November 1 calling for humility, not hate, when exercising first amendment rights. She has also been impressed with students she has heard from on both sides of the issue and the empathy that each has for the other. The ability to speak across difference is important at universities. Chancellor Mnookin provided an update on concrete initiatives stemming from some of the initial themes that she heard about in her first year, all around the theme of innovation for the public good. Last month, we launched a pilot program designed by Dean Diana Hess and the School of Education called the Deliberation Dinners. This program brings together 100 ideologically and demographically diverse students to share seven meals in groups of about ten or so. Each meal is facilitated by academic staff or faculty who have gone through the Discussion Project, and each meal will include discussion of a challenging issue. There was an enormous response from students wanting to participate. This is one of several efforts underway to make this campus a place where all can flourish. Work is still underway on details of a timeline for paid parental leave. A pilot project began in July requiring institutional reference checks for appointments conferring tenure to ensure institutions are not “passing the harasser.” We also have terrific initiatives around mentorship and career-building in progress.

The Legislature approved raises totaling 6% over the next two years for state employees, but these increases have been withheld from university employees. Governor Evers sued members of the Legislature, claiming overstep of authority in this action and others. UW-Madison is not directly involved in the lawsuit but continues to advocate along with President Rothman for passage of the pay plan by legislative leaders. We are also working to get a bill passed this fall that would fund the state’s portion for a new College of Engineering building, which was the highest building priority across all Universities of Wisconsin institutions. If we are able to move forward, it would be jointly funded by UW and the state. Last week, a campaign was launched to renew awareness of why this facility is essential both for us and the state. This issue has also built further awareness of our institution’s need for bonding authority.

UW-Madison broke records in several areas over the past academic year. Our four-year graduation rate increased to 75.5%, which is our highest ever. Our six-year graduation rate was also our highest ever at 89.3%. Our average time-to-degree decreased to 3.84 calendar years, which is our shortest ever. UW conferred a record 12,407 degrees, and we have broken the 50,000 mark for total number of students, even with this year’s freshmen class being smaller than last year’s. Chancellor Mnookin thanked academic staff for their essential role in this excellence.

The Chancellor also encouraged attendees to see the Ho-Chunk banners hanging on the front of Bascom Hall, which were unveiled at a ceremony with tribal leaders last week. These banners are both part of the 175th anniversary of our institution and part of larger efforts to raise awareness that our university sits on the ancestral land of the Ho-Chunk people. Chancellor Mnookin has also been in the process of visiting every school and college over the past several months, which has given her a deeper appreciation for how many spaces of excellence we have on our campus.

Guest: April McHugh, Director, Career Counseling, Office of Human Resources (Career Counseling Program)

The Employee Career Counseling program helps visitors gain awareness of themselves, develop strategies for decision-making, and set realistic and achievable goals for developing their careers. The program is a confidential resource and is of no cost to employees. Employees can attend appointments without loss of pay. The number of sessions, duration of those sessions, and modality are flexible based on employee need and what the program’s services can offer. The program focuses on partnering with employees to help them find what they need. Benefits of the program include career planning, career options across campus/within the institution, advancing one’s career, identifying meaningful work, and professional development. These areas in particular are ones that also have a basis in feedback received through the Staff Climate Survey. The program’s website has DIY career planning resources and a career toolkit. The program currently has 2 full-time counselors and 1 part-time counselor, and they are typically able to see employees within 4-6 weeks. The program is available to all employees.

Automatic Consent Business

The Academic Staff Assembly minutes of Monday, October 9, 2023, were approved.


ASEC Chair Albert Muniz presented the ASEC report. Albert highlighted that it was Native November and provided details in the text of the ASEC report on events honoring our native and indigenous communities. Albert reiterated to attendees that they should complete or update their Committee Interest Survey to be considered for current and future shared governance committee openings. The Diversity Forum is scheduled for November 14-15. Virtual town halls will be held on November 16 and November 29 to seek input and questions regarding the proposal to change the reporting line for the Dean of the Graduate School from the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education to the Provost. University Health Services has removed session limits for student mental health services, and they are also offering virtual support through a platform called UWill.

ASPRO Board President Jenny Dahlberg presented the ASPRO report. On October 26, ASPRO sent a notification to its membership on the importance of sending feedback to state representatives encouraging them to take up the pay plan for university employees. ASPRO continues to track a number of bills, including Assembly Bill 553, which passed through the Assembly but hasn’t been taken up by the Senate. This bill relates to free speech and academic freedom within Universities of Wisconsin institutions.

Committee Co-Chair Elise Ahn presented the annual report of the Campus Diversity and Climate Committee for 2022-2023. The committee continued engagement in promoting academic success for all students, supporting the Diversity Forum, and making policy recommendations about campus diversity and climate issues. They had over 30 campus partners join the committee throughout the year. Regarding academic success, the committee recommended the creation of an indigenous students scholarship or tuition promise program, continued learning about issues facing international students/staff/faculty, and discussed how holistic support for undocumented students can continue with the closure of the Center for Dreamers. The theme of this year’s Diversity Forum is “Bridging the Divide: Realizing Belonging While Engaging Difference.” The committee worked with the Provost and the Chief Diversity Officer on policy recommendations, including streamlining DEI reporting processes for schools/colleges/divisions, as well as expanding these efforts to include administrative units in the Provost Office as well.

Resolution for the Creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Age in the Workplace (ASA #817)

Donna Cole, ASEC Vice Chair, moved approval of the resolution by the Assembly. The Assembly heard a first reading of the resolution at the September meeting. Since the first reading, the resolution was updated to include specific areas of concern for the committee to consider and a timeline for the committee’s work. Motion seconded. Approved.

Provost Report

Provost Isbell discussed the Faculty Strategic Hiring Initiative. Deans are being asked to work with their departments and units to get feedback and think about large scale hiring initiatives that schools/colleges/divisions can do. All proposals require at least two deans working together on cross-school/college/division initiatives. Proposals will also include information on potential needs around staffing and space, as well as organizational and curricular questions that might arise from the topic areas being proposed. Provost Isbell encouraged attendees to go to the virtual town halls with any questions they may have on the proposal to change the Dean of the Graduate School reporting line. There are several reasons to move the direct reporting line from the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education to the Provost. Approximately 75% of the work is around academics and education, work which is more connected with the Provost Office and the other Deans. This move would also put our institution in line with structures that our peers have in place, as well as better engagement in national conversations that Deans of Graduate Schools and Provosts are having about graduate education.

Meeting adjourned at 4:50 pm.

Minutes submitted by Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff

KeywordsASA Minutes   Doc ID133315
OwnerLesley F.GroupThe Office of the Secretary/ Academic Staff
Created2023-12-12 09:56:47Updated2023-12-12 09:57:32
SitesThe Office of the Secretary/ Academic Staff
Feedback  0   0