University of Chicago Survey on Tenure

Across the UW system, tenured and tenure-track faculty members this week received an invitation to participate in a survey about “faculty opinions on tenure.” The invitation came from Professor William Howell of the University of Chicago. UWM-AAUP is reposting the following information from UW-Madison Faculty Secretary Steven K. Smith so that all may make informed choices. (source:


Dear UW–Madison faculty,

We have been informed by UW System administration that a survey is being sent to all UW System faculty to gauge opinions about tenure. Some of you may have already received an email from the University of Chicago researcher who is leading the survey. The survey is funded by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. UW System provided email contacts to the researcher for all System faculty members. Participation in the survey is voluntary.


Dear UW-Madison faculty,

We have received several requests for additional information on the message sent earlier today (below). Those who have opened the survey message indicate that it does not make clear who is funding the research and many are struck by the limitations placed on answers. Please remember that participation in this survey is voluntary and that it has no official connection to the UW.

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute is a think tank funded by the Bradley Foundation, with significant connections to ALEC. More information is available at and elsewhere on the internet. Please contact the researcher directly if you have questions about survey design, funding, or the like.

The addresses of UW System faculty were provided to the researcher under the state open records laws. There is no choice about filling these requests, nor can state agencies question the end use of the information requested. We were told that the request was only for tenured faculty emails, but apparently others have also received the survey.

Ideally this information would have been made available to you before it went out, but we were not aware of the survey until this afternoon.


Dear UW-Madison faculty,

Apologies for the third message on one topic, but additional information has been provided that is likely of interest to many of you.

Several faculty members have sent copies of replies they have received directly from the researcher. According to the researcher: “Thanks for reaching out. No data from CVs will be merged to individual survey responses. Moreover, Qualtrics is conducting the survey in a way that assures the anonymity of responses. The only data outside of the survey environment that will be used are publicly available personnel data provided by the UW system. These include rank, salary, academic unit, and university campus.”

Additionally, if you have completed the survey and wish to now opt out, you can do so by contacting Professor Howell ( and the University of Chicago IRB (