Original Issuance Date: July 1, 2015
Last Revision Date:                

1. Policy Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide UW System institutions with a titling structure within the framework of employee categories that covers all UW System employees as required by Wis. Stat. § 36.115(2).  It is the Board of Regents’ responsibility to fix the duties of administrators, officers, faculty, academic staff, university staff, and other employees of the UW System, and each chancellor’s delegated authority for the administration and operation of the institution within the policies and guidelines established by the Board are set forth in Chapter 36 of the Wisconsin Statutes. This guideline provides a systemwide framework for title usage; describes System and institution authority for assignment of titles; offers general descriptions of titles (see Appendices Appendix 1 pdf , 1A pdf , and Appendix 2.

2. Policy Background

Employment categories within the UW System have historically been defined by two personnel structures: classified and unclassified.  These structures are authorized by laws contained in Wis. Stat. Chapter 36 (University Of Wisconsin System), Wis. Stat. Chapter 111 (Employment Relations), and Wis. Stat. Chapter 230 (State Employment Relations).  Wis. Stat. Chapter 36 defined the unclassified personnel structure, while Wis. Stat. Chapter 230 defined the classified personnel structure.  Each structure has its own set of titles to describe positions.

Wis. Stat. § 36.115(6) states: “All system employees holding positions in the classified or unclassified service of the civil service system under ch. 230 on June 30, 2015, shall be included in the personnel system developed under subs. (2) and (3).”

Pre-merger Chapter 36, Wisconsin Statutes, did not describe faculty, academic staff, limited or other unclassified positions.  Rather, the former Chapter 36 institutions had distinguished six categories of unclassified staff: probationary faculty; tenured faculty; administrative staff; visiting and clinical staff; professional, scientific and specialist staff; and graduate assistants. The 1969 “Laws and Regulations of the University of Wisconsin,” adopted by the Board of Regents, divided these six categories into two broad groupings of university faculty and academic staff. Thus, faculty became recognized by the four ranked titles (professor, associate professor, assistant professor, and instructor), while academic staff continued as an umbrella term that included other unclassified staff categories.

Under pre-merger Chapter 37, Wisconsin Statutes, the former Wisconsin State Universities divided unclassified staff into ranked and unranked faculty. Ranked faculty were professors, associate professors, assistant professors, instructors, and librarians with master’s degrees. Also, until 1969 faculty assistants (whose functions resembled lecturers of today) were part of the ranked faculty. Administrative and professional positions with non-instructional duties considered to be unique to higher education were placed in the unranked faculty, although many of those who filled those positions were ranked, tenured faculty.

With the enactment of 1973 Wisconsin Act 335, the merged UW System was created in Chapter 36, Wisconsin Statutes. Unlike the pre-merger statutory chapters, the revised Chapter 36 specified four separate categories of unclassified personnel: faculty, academic staff, limited, and other. On January 15, 1976, Unclassified Personnel Guideline #1 was issued to offer general descriptions of the statutorily-specified categories and selected titles within those categories. The original UPG #1 and subsequent revisions provided a title framework that allowed each institution to specify the definition, selection, and use of titles to accommodate its needs. Unclassified titles were not consistently defined or applied among the institutions.

Legislative attention in the 1985-87 session was focused on external salary equity for faculty and both internal and external equity for academic staff.  By Executive Order #44 (January 25, 1984), Governor Anthony Earl created The State Comparable Worth Task Force and charged it to study the state classified service and the unclassified academic staff using the principle of equal pay for comparable worth. The Task Force and the Assembly Select Committee expressed internal equity concerns about titles and compensation for academic staff and questioned whether academic staff performing the same tasks were being assigned similar titles and compensation. These issues came to the fore when the Legislature considered special supplementary salary adjustments (catch-up) for faculty and academic staff.

The 1985-87 biennial budget request by the Board of Regents included catch-up for academic staff based on the 1984 findings of the Academic Staff Salary Study Committee which grouped academic staff titles into seven functional categories for analysis of salary data: research, instructional, library, academic support, student services, administrative support and business services. When the biennial budget was finally enacted, the Board was authorized to distribute catch-up to academic staff in the research, instructional and library categories. However, approval to distribute catch-up to academic staff in the academic support, student services, administrative support and business services categories was withheld pending Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) approval of a plan to implement an academic staff “categorization structure”. The structure required consistent job categories with mechanisms to provide lines of career progression, consistent position titles that accurately reflect functions performed and consistent pay ranges for academic staff positions at all institutions.

As required by the 1985 Budget Act, the Board and the Department of Employment Relations (DER) jointly retained an independent consultant for the purpose of developing an academic staff categorization structure. Under the direction of a UW System Steering Committee, the consulting firm of Hayes/Hill, Inc. designed a framework for assigning consistent academic staff titles throughout the UW System. On June 24, 1986 JCOER approved UW System implementation of the academic staff categorization structure. The implementation of a new academic staff title structure required a redesign of all unclassified title codes.

In December 1991, the Board of Regents approved the unclassified title and salary structure resulting from the senior prefix lawsuit. The DER Secretary approved the academic staff titles and salary range structure as required under Wis. Stat. § 36.09(1)(k)2.d (subsequently repealed).  In October 1995 the DER Secretary approved several pay range reassignments as a result of the UWS Gender and Race Equity Study. DER approved the remaining Gender and Race Equity pay range changes in August 1996. This was followed by the Board of Regents approval of new information technology titles in February 1997 and the addition of the distinguished prefix for certain Category B titles approved in March 1998.

After the enactment of the Gender/Race Equity law, the Department of Employment Relations interpreted the law to require DER approval of proposed changes to Category A academic staff titles and/or ranges. Title structure changes for instructional and research academic staff were allowed by Regent action.  In July 1998 the statute was amended to remove DER’s authority to approve Category A titles and/or salary range changes.  Authority to amend the title and salary range structure is now fully vested in the Board of Regents.

Wis. Stat. § 230.09(1), Classification, states: “The director shall ascertain and record the duties, responsibilities and authorities of, and establish grade levels and classifications for, all positions in the classified service. Each classification so established shall include all positions which are comparable with respect to authority, responsibility and nature of work required.  Each classification shall be established to include as many positions as are reasonable and practicable.  In addition, each class shall:

  • (b) Be designated by the same official generic title. The official titles of classes so established shall be used in all reports and payrolls and in all estimates requesting the appropriation of money to pay employees.
    • c) Be so constituted that the same evaluated grade level within a pay schedule can be applied to all positions in the class under similar working conditions.
  • (d) Where practical, be included in a series to provide probable lines of progression.

Wis. Stat. § 230.09(2)(a) states: “After consultation with the appointing authorities, the director shall allocate each position in the classified service to an appropriate class on the basis of its duties, authority, responsibilities or other factors recognized in the job evaluation process. The director may reclassify or reallocate positions on the same basis.”

ER 3.02 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code states: “After an appointing authority has received budgetary approval for a new position and desires to fill the position, a written description of the position’s duties and responsibilities and any other pertinent information as required shall be submitted to the director.”

The above language forms the basis for classifying positions within the State of Wisconsin civil service system.

3. Policy Definitions

Please see the SYS 1225, General Terms and Definitions, for a list of general terms and definitions.

4. Policy

The University Personnel System is comprised of seven (7) employee categories.  Within this framework of employee categories, job titles are defined.  Each title shall include positions that are comparable with respect to the nature of work, authority/level of responsibility, and job duties.  Assignment of positions to titles will be based on a “best fit” concept.

With the implementation of the new personnel systems under Wis. Stat. § 36.115, there are two distinct titling structures that coexist for the following employee categories:

Faculty (see Appendix 1 pdf and Appendix 1A pdf )
Academic Staff (see Appendix 1 pdf and Appendix 1A pdf )
Limited Appointees (see Appendix 1 pdf and Appendix 1A pdf )
Employees-in-Training (see Appendix 1 pdf and Appendix 1A pdf )
Student Assistants (see Appendix 1 pdf and Appendix 1A pdf )
University Staff (see Appendix 2)
Student Hourly (see SYS 1237, Student Employment)

In general, the assigned duties and responsibilities performed by a person appointed under the authority of the Board of Regents constitute a position. A formal title describes a single position or a group of positions that possess substantially similar (though not necessarily identical) duties and responsibilities.  The UW System title structure is designed to permit the assignment of a formal title to each position occupied by a person appointed under the authority of the Board of Regents.

To allow for differences in position responsibilities, organizational structures and institutions, formal titles are defined in general terms.  To more closely describe a position, institutions may find it useful or necessary to establish informal working titles.  A structure of informal working titles, and the policies, procedures and practices for its administration may be established at the discretion of the institution.

However, use of working titles may not offer an adequate response to emerging needs among the institutions.  Therefore, institutions may request additions, deletions or modifications to the formal title structure.  Amendments to the formal title structure must be approved by the Board of Regents. Institution proposals to amend the formal title structure should be submitted to UW System Human Resources which will coordinate a systemwide review process. Upon completion of the review process, UW System Human Resources will submit the request to the Board of Regents for action.

See the appendices for more detailed information on the UW System titling structure

  • Appendix 1 pdf – Faculty, Academic Staff, Limited Appointees, Student Assistants, Employees-in-Training (formerly Unclassified Personnel Guideline 1)
  • Appendix 1A pdf – Faculty, Academic Staff, Limited Appointees, Student Assistants, Employees-in-Training Title Definitions (formerly Unclassified Personnel Guideline 1A)
  • Appendix 2 – University Staff Titles and Definitions

5. Related Documents

Regent Policy Document 6-1, Administrative Titles
Regent Policy Document 20-8, Academic Staff Title and Compensation Plan
Regent Policy Document 20-12, Distinguished Prefix for Certain Category B Titles
SYS 1277, Compensation

6. Policy History

Since 1998 the Board of Regents has had full authority to maintain the unclassified title and salary range structure.  This resulted from an amendment to remove Department of Employment Relations’ (DER’s) authority to approve Category A titles and/or salary range changes (note: DER was the predecessor agency to the Office of State Employment Relations (OSER), which was the predecessor agency to the Division of Personnel Management (DPM)).

Establishment of classifications and grade levels for all positions in the classified service was under the control of DER, OSER, and DPM, all offices of the Wisconsin Department of Administration.  See Wis. Stat. § 230.09.

Effective July 1, 2015, the Board of Regents became responsible for its workforce per Wis. Stat.  36.115.