UW-L SPOUSAL/PARTNER HIRING POLICIES & PROCEDURES                            Draft 10-3-07  


To attract and retain faculty, instructional academic staff (IAS), and non-instructional academic staff (NIAS), and administrators of the highest caliber, UW-La Crosse (UW-L) must be prepared to meet the many challenges and opportunities of the higher education marketplace. Dual-career couples represent both such a challenge and opportunity. The University's success in building and nurturing the faculty and administrative leadership it seeks will depend, in part, on its capacity to help dual-career couples meet their professional objectives.  Approval of the spousal/partner hire must be obtained from the Chancellor or Provost/Vice Chancellor prior to this condition being added to the spouse's/partner's offer or contract (as a Memorandum of Agreement) or specified in a retention agreement.


The following policies and procedures have been developed to assist the University community in negotiating these appointments. Although the particulars of each negotiation will be unique, the following policies and procedures are intended to provide a framework for a timely and successful effort. Deans and/or Division Officers may need to take certain additional steps to enable agreement among various parties to the hiring process. These policies and procedures apply to the recruitment or retention of faculty, IAS, NIAS, or administrative individuals.  Classified positions need to follow Wisconsin Civil Service and respective union contracts and guidelines. 


  • Candidate refers to the member of a couple being recruited or considered for retention by the University whose appointment must be subject to Conditions of Faculty or Administrative Service.
  • Spouse/partner refers to an accompanying spouse or partner whose employment at the University is a substantial factor in the candidate's acceptance of a University offer of employment or retention. The spouse/partner may be seeking a position in an faculty, IAS, NIAS, or administrative category.
  • PVC refers to the Provost/Vice Chancellor
  • AAO refers the Affirmative Action Officer
  • HR refers to the Executive Director for Human Resources or designee 
  • Department/Unit refers to the academic department or non-academic unit extending an offer to the candidate.
  • Receiving department/Unit refers to the academic department or non-academic unit extending an offer to the spouse/partner.

Suggested Sequence of Events in Negotiating a Spouse/Partner Hire

When a candidate indicates that a spouse/partner hire would be a substantial factor in his or her decision to accept an offer or remain at the University, the following sequence of events is suggested.

Initial Internal Process

  1. The Department/Unit head/director contacts the spouse/partner to gather information about the spouse’s/partner’s career objectives and qualifications. A curriculum vitae or résumé and other relevant information is submitted as soon as possible.  
  2. The Department/Unit head/director consults with the dean or division officer regarding the importance of facilitating a spouse/partner hire, the possibilities for funding a position, possible departments/units to contact, and what further information may be required from the candidate and spouse/partner.
  3. The Department/Unit head/director takes steps to gather information about possible job search directions and to distribute a curriculum vitae or résumé and other information about the spouse/partner as necessary. In this initial process, the Department/Unit head/director may wish to consult the following resources:
    • Other Department/Unit heads/directors regarding positions in appropriate disciplinary/support areas
    • College deans, division officers and PVC regarding appointed (faculty, IAS, NIAS or administrative) or classified staff positions
    • The Human Resources’ homepage regarding all vacant positions within the University.

The initial steps in the search or identification process for a position for the spouse/partner are to determine if there is the possibility of a “fit” within a receiving department and whether there is a basis to proceed to the interview stage.

Identification of and Consultation with Potential Receiving Department/Unit

  1. Department/Unit heads/directors who express interest in the spouse/partner and who have or are willing to create an opportunity within their departments/units to employ the spouse/partner should then consult with their deans/division officers regarding the possibilities for a position, possible additional department/units to contact, and what further information may be required from the spouse/partner.  
  2. The potential receiving department/unit head/director consults with his/her department/unit. Appropriate committees review the spouse's/partner's documentation, explore the relationship of the hire to department goals, opportunities and problems that may exist, and determine what further information may be required from the spouse/partner, including the need for a campus visit. If the initial exploration is clearly negative, the process ends at this point.
  3. If the spouse/partner hire appears to have the potential for success within the receiving department/unit the affected deans or division officers consult with each other and Business Services to determine whether funding is viable. The deans or division officers work out a general funding plan to be proposed in writing to the PVC.  Funding specifics should include the cost of an interview with the individual.
  4. The dean or division officer consults with HR in order to make sure that the potential hire appropriately reflects UW System and UW-L policies and procedures (title, salary ranges, job security, etc.).
  5. The deans or division officers are required to consult with the AAO when considering the possibility of making a Spousal/Partner hire.  Approval by the AAO is required to move forward with the negotiations.  The AAO will take into account the following criteria when considering approval of a spousal/partner hire.

·         Whether an underrepresented individual has been identified by a search or an academic department is attempting to retain an underrepresented individual;

·         The affirmative action record of the unit and the impact of the proposed spousal/partner hire will be taken into account in the decision to permit the spousal/partner hire.

The AAO may also approve the hire based on department/unit, college/division, and/or university need. If these consultation steps continue to support the viability of a hire, a formal interview is arranged.  The Dean/Division Officer will initiate a “request to interview spousal/partner hire” email (indicated as such in the subject line) to both HR and AAO and secure approval prior to interviewing.

Interviewing of Spouse/Partner

  1. The receiving Department/Unit generally uses the regular, formal interview process to determine if the spouse/partner is a desirable hire. Interview questions must be approved by HR, AAD, and the Dean/Division Officer of the receiving department/unit.  Other candidates do not need to be considered – the process mirrors an emergency hire.
  2. Procedures generally include review by a faculty status committee or other search advisory committee within the department or unit as well as by the administration if the spouse/partner is a potential faculty member. The decision to hire needs to be based on the individual’s own merits vis a vis the department’s/unit’s goals. The spouse/partner in consideration needs to have sufficiently high achievements and/or potential that he or she would have been a member of a “short list” for a position in the department/unit if a position in the area (and for the type of position in question, e.g., lecturer, assistant professor) had been advertised. When the interests of the spouse/partner represents a new direction for the unit, the benefits of the addition of the spouse/partner to the unit may be weighed along with his or her qualifications and accomplishments and potential contributions to the unit. Departments/units might consider a hire’s effect on, among other things, future directions of the unit, potential as a teacher or scholar, potential contribution to the workload of the department and interdisciplinary connections to other department/units.

Outcome of the Spouse/Partner Interview

  1. If the review process results in an overall negative recommendation by the receiving department, the process ends at this point. If the spouse/partner hire is supported by the receiving department, negotiations proceed to the formal agreement stage. The Dean/Division Officer of the department/unit will initiate an email to HR and AAO indicating no further action or request to hire (indicated “spousal/partner hire” in the subject line). 
  2. The deans or division officers affected determine the elements of an agreement, including terms such as salary, sources of salary, space, rank or title, startup needs, tenure clock (if ranked position), contract length (if not ranked), or other status of the spouse/partner hire, in consultation with HR. Issues that may need to be addressed and that need to be agreed upon at the time of hire include the following: Do the hiring arrangements change over time (e.g., Does one unit phase out support?) Are there possible term or status limits on any shared funding? If the candidate leaves the University or their job terminates, how long does the commitment to the spouse/partner continue? If the spouse/partner leaves the University or moves to another university department, does the line and funding provided by the other sources stay in the spouse/partner's original department? Under what conditions is a term appointment renewed? What would happen if the spouse/partner shifts status (e.g., from multi-year lecturer to assistant professor)? What costs (i.e., start-up, space renovation, moving, laboratory facilities, campus visits, etc.) will be supported and by whom? Financial support available for a candidate and spouse/partner may vary substantially across colleges and divisions.

Request for Support from Provost or Vice President

  1. Once all parties reach an agreement (see item 13), the dean(s)/division officer(s) approach the PVC to discuss commitments such as funding for salary, startup resources, and personnel needs as well as space needs, special tenure or continuing status issues, etc. Consideration of the current recruitment plan, as well as strategic planning will play a part in the discussion.

The PVC requires the following documentation for Spousal/Partner Hire Requests:

1.     Description of why the spousal/partner hire is needed and an analysis of his/her credentials supporting appointment.

2.     Copy of the hiring goals for each department affected by the primary hire and the proposed spousal/partner or retention hire and an explanation of the impact of these hires on the goals; Description of how the subject matter or professional expertise of the proposed hire impacts the unit's existing academic priorities and long-range plans.

3.     Statement describing the funding arrangements for the proposed hire; and

4.     Evidence that affected departments, deans, and the AAO are in agreement regarding the hire and that HR and Business Services have been consulted and the decision meets the pertinent policies.

  1. Upon approval of the PVC, an offer can be extended.  HR will initiate the CBC process. The intent to hire the spouse/partner must be included in the candidate's offer letter or retention agreement by way of a Memorandum of Agreement. Approval of the spouse/partner hire must be obtained from the PVC before this condition may be added to the candidate's offer letter or retention agreement (MOA). In addition to the terms applicable to the candidate's hire or retention, the MOA contains the signatures of the affected department chairs or unit directors, affected deans or division officers, and the PVC in the hire of both the candidate and the spouse/partner.  The MOA will be housed in the personnel files of the both partners/spouses.
  2.  If the hire is a domestic partner, following UW System policy, a Domestic Partner Affidavit needs to be filed in conjunction with the signed contract/MOA.  http://www.uwsa.edu/hr/benefits/ins/uws50.pdf

Domestic Partners are defined as two individuals who, together, each meet all of the following criteria set forth in the Domestic Partner Affidavit, UWS-50:
1. Are 18 years of age or older.

2. Are competent to enter into a contract.

3. Are not legally married to, nor the domestic partner of, any other person.

4. Are not related by marriage.

5. Are not related by blood closer than permitted under marriage laws of the State of Wisconsin.

6. Have entered into the domestic partner relationship voluntarily, willingly, and without reservation.

7. Have entered into a relationship which is the functional equivalent of a marriage, and which includes all of the following:
            a. living together as a couple;
            b. mutual support of each other;
            c. mutual caring and commitment to each other;
            d. mutual fidelity;
            e. mutual responsibility for each other's welfare; and
            f. joint responsibility for the necessities in life.
8. Have been living together as a couple for at least six (6) months prior to registration with the Subscriber's employer.  

9. Intend to continue the domestic partner relationship indefinitely, while understanding that the relationship is terminable at the will of either partner.

  1. The position of the spouse/partner will remain funded until the stated term limitation of the offer or until such funding is no longer available. The offer letter may limit the term for which funding for the position is provided. This limitation does not preclude the department/unit from later extending the term of the funding and continuing the appointment.

Evaluation and Role of Spouse/Partner Within Receiving Department

  1. During negotiations and after a spouse/partner joins the receiving department/unit, the spouse/partner will be treated in the same way as any other employee of the same rank and status within the receiving department. Thus, on matters such as merit review, retention, promotion and tenure or continuing status reviews, working conditions or workload assignment, the spouse/partner will be evaluated and treated in the same manner as all other similarly ranked individuals within the receiving department/unit.
  2. All department heads, unit directors, or deans/division officers involved should consider the effects of the spouse/partner hire on recruitment plans and on the department's/unit’s or college's/division’s overall workload responsibilities. For example, does the individual hired fill a specific programmatic need within the department? If not, will there be a negative effect upon the department's subsequent ability to recruit for other new appointments that are based on needs not satisfied by the spouse/partner hire? When the spouse/partner hire increases the number of faculty in the department who are available to share instructional, committee, and service duties, he or she is counted as part of the unit’s overall FTE in determining whether the unit has enough faculty to cover its general workload.
  3. Effective date of this is DATE INSERTED HERE.

Notes: Modeled on University of Arizona’s [http://web.arizona.edu/~vprovacf/couples/]

and University of Minnesota’s [http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/toolkit/hiring/academic/

guidelines/  appendixc/spousal.html policies. Hiring an international faculty member (who is not a United States' citizen or permanent resident) without a search can make it difficult or impossible for the UW-L to obtain permanent residency for that person.