Revised: September 24, 2015

1. Background

  1. The University of Wisconsin System historically provided funds to be used by its President to cover costs associated with hosting official functions. The Wisconsin State Universities allocated funds to each of its Presidents for this purpose. On March 5, 1970, the Attorney General supported the authority of the Board “to establish expense accounts for the several WSU Presidents as the Board deems necessary to carry out the proper functions of the State Universities.”
  2. These practices were continued in the merged System with annual allocations of General Purpose Revenue (GPR) for the UW System President and the executive head of each institution.

2. Constraints

Section 20.285(2)(e), Wis. Stats., states that: “No general purpose revenues appropriated under this section may be used for entertainment by University of Wisconsin officials.” This section precludes the use of GPR funds for “entertainment”; however, it does not preclude use of non-GPR funds, such as unrestricted Program Revenue Funds for these purposes, nor does it say that entertainment as such is not appropriate.

University Travel Policies
UW System Administrative Policy 435 (SYS 435), Headquarter City & UW System Sponsored Events Policy
Covers policies, procedures, and rate maximums for travel and entertainment costs related to University business.

3. Policy

1. Each institution may establish an Official Functions budget from Program Revenue sources. Increases to this budget during the course of the year, or from one year to the next, must be approved by the Vice President for Finance. The UW System President, the Chancellor of each institution and the Center Deans may make reasonable and moderate expenditures (excluding alcoholic beverages) directly associated with hosting events which are social in nature but directly related to a UW function or activity. Events which are business-related fall under the policies governing UW-sponsored events and may be paid from other departmental funds.

2. Examples of functions and activities considered appropriate are:

  1. Receptions for parents of preregistering students.
  2. Inauguration ceremony for a new President, Chancellor or Center Dean.
  3. Receptions for graduating classes and their parents.
  4. Alumni Homecoming receptions.
  5. Receptions for community leaders, prominent visitors, legislators and officials, or leaders of educational programs.
  6. Receptions for Board of Regents, Board of Visitors or officials from other public or private institutions.
  7. Receptions related to opening of new facilities and dedication ceremonies. The preponderance of people in attendance must be from outside the institution.
  8. Receptions for officially recognized student groups.
  9. Receptions and recognition functions to honor distinguished faculty, staff and students for special achievements (e.g., awarding of Nobel Prize to a UW System professor).

The President and Chancellors have the option of providing a dinner or luncheon if it is felt that this would be more appropriate than a reception. Meal costs for spouses are allowable, providing the spouse is expected to be in attendance as an official representative of the University.

Out-of-city travel costs for UW officials (Board members, President, Vice President, Chancellors) may be reimbursed from the same funding source used for the salary of the attending employee. All travel costs must comply with the UW System Travel Regulations.

3. Expenditures for the following functions and activities are not considered appropriate charges to the Official Function’s Budget or any other source of funds administered by the UW:

  1. Reception or meal costs for newly hired faculty or regular University of Wisconsin faculty members.
  2. Entertainment for an all-university group of employees in their headquarters city.
  3. Pure social functions for faculty, staff and students.
  4. Retirement and resignation receptions for university personnel.
  5. Receptions or recognition activities for promoted employees.
  6. Transportation of official guests to athletic or social events.
  7. Expenses for spouse when attendance at the function is not required.
  8. Expenses for meal or transportation costs for University-related Foundations or Alumni Association board of directors’ meetings.
  9. Holiday greeting cards.

The items listed above are not all-inclusive; therefore, each anticipated expenditure should be reviewed on its own merit to determine appropriateness.