Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures Workgroup

A campus workgroup was charged to transition policy from the former Teaching Assistants Association (TAA) contract to a Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures (GAPP) resource. This webpage is intended to inform campus about the project and answer frequently asked questions.

View the draft policies and procedures

The most recent working document draft of the Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures reflects the group’s work through its April 3, 2018 meeting.


Graduate assistant policies and procedures were previously included in the labor contract between the TAA and the State of Wisconsin. This contract expired in 2011 as a result of Act 10 and the subsequent decertification of the TAA labor union.

UW–Madison continues to honor the terms outlined within the contract with limited exceptions. However, the contract does not adequately address the policy needs or for graduate assistants or the other groups not covered by the former TAA contract.

  • About the Project

    The workgroup was charged in early 2017 by Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration; Sarah C. Mangelsdorf, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; and William J. Karpus, Dean of the Graduate School.

    Workgroup members are staff whose responsibilities include interaction with graduate assistants and graduate students selected by the Associated Students of Madison (ASM). This includes staff from the College of Letters and Sciences, Office of Human Resources, Graduate School, College of Engineering, and four graduate students appointed by ASM.

    The workgroup’s primary purpose is to develop a policy and procedures resource that will guide graduate assistants and supervisors on employment-related matters. The project will memorialize much of the language found in the previous TAA contract, expanding policy to pertain to all graduate assistant appointments – Teaching Assistant (TA), Project Assistant (PA), Research Assistant (RA), Lecturer (SA) and Project Assistant reader.

    The project as originally defined was intended to be completed by the end of fall semester 2017. This timeline is dependent on progress as the new GAPP resource develops.

    To view the full project charter, please click here.

  • Meetings

    Workgroup meetings, listed below, are open to the public.

    • June 20, 2017, 1pm, Bascom 334
      Agenda: Welcome, Introductions, Facilitator, Guiding Principles, Project Charter, Scope, Workgroup structure and Processes, Future meetings
    • July 18, 1:30pm, Bascom 54
      Agenda: Differentiating: Policy, Procedures, Process; Appointment Letters, Appointment Percentage, Appointment Terms, Assigned Duties
    • August 16, 10am, Bascom 53
      Agenda: Follow up: All campus mailing lists, meeting schedule and locations; Appointment Letters, Appointment Percentage, Appointment Terms, Assigned Duties
    • August 30, 10am, Bascom 334
      Agenda: Follow up: Definitions personnel lists; Review: probationary period; Appointment percentage, employee information, assigned duties
    • September 11, 10am, Bascom 334
      Agenda: Revisit: Work surroundings; Review: Orientation, training & evaluation; Non-discrimination/affirmative action; health and safety
    • September 25, 10am, Bascom 334
      Agenda: Revisit: Personnel lists, work surroundings; Review: personnel file, travel and lodging; Subject Matter Experts: Lisa Hull, Jeff Armstrong
    • October 9, 10am, Bascom 334
      Agenda: Revisit: personnel lists; Review: wages and benefits; Subject matter experts: Thomasin Propson
    • October 23, 10am, Bascom 334
      Agenda: Review: Crosswalk documentation, policy priority items for review and process for writing narrative, wages and benefits. Subject matter experts: Diane Blaskowski or Thomasin Propsin; Update on forums
    • November 6, 10am, Bascom 334
      Agenda: TBA
    • November 20, 10am, Bascom 334
      Agenda: Review work to date; Health insurance, wages
    • November 27, 10am, Bascom 334
      Agenda: Follow up: Sick leave, parental leave, Bursar’s Office, Orientation, Training, & Evaluation, Health & Safety
    • December 11, 10am, Bascom 334
      Agenda: TBA
    • January 29, 2018 10-11:30am, 334 Bascom Hall
    • February 27, 2018 9-10:30am, 334 Bascom Hall
    • April 3, 2018 9-10:30am, 334 Bascom Hall
    • May 1, 2018 9-10:30am, 334 Bascom Hall
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
    What types of topics will be covered in the new Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures?

    Examples of the types of topics found in the previous TAA contract include: benefits, health insurance, lodging and meals when traveling,– many of which are governed by UW System policies. Click here to review the TAA contract.

    What topics will not be covered?

    Although significant portions of the current policy will transition with little or no impact to current practice, several areas will require more substantive language modification, e.g. grievance policy and policies surrounding time and leave reporting. Due to the employment nature of the policies, the Office of Human Resources (OHR) and Graduate School manage the resulting policies.

    Will others have a chance to review and comment on the new policies and procedures resource?

    Yes, the workgroup will seek input from campus through an open forum Tuesday, April 10 from 11:30am-1pm in Memorial Union (TITU). Information on this forum was also advertised in GradConnections Weekly and Working at UW.

    What will happen with GAPP after Spring 2018?

    The GAPP workgroup aims to have a draft policy document completed by the end of Spring 2018.  As much policy as possible will be moved to the new format upon approval.  The final draft GAPP document will be submitted to the workgroup executive sponsors (Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration, Sarah Mangelsdorf, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and William Karpus, Dean of the Graduate School) for their review, approval and recommendation to the Chancellor.  After the final draft GAPP document is submitted for approval, existing GAPP workgroup will turn to the grievance procedure.  The grievance procedure, as well as other areas which are identified as requiring more substantive language modification will be reviewed in the future.

    How does the loss of domestic partner benefits relate to the GAPP workgroup?

    While GAPP contains information about the health insurance and benefits for graduate assistants, the loss of domestic partner benefits is not related to any action of the GAPP workgroup.

    According to the Employee Trust Funds (ETF) October 6th, 2017 news release, ETF notified employees “with a Chapter 40 domestic partnership about the effects of the 2017 Wisconsin Act 59 on their Wisconsin Retirement System benefits, effective dates and available options going forward.  The law that provided members and their domestic partners certain benefits when the partnership was registered with ETF has been changed by 2017 Wisconsin Act 59, which was signed into law on September 21. As a result, some previous benefits, including health insurance, will no longer be available to domestic partners as of January 1, 2018.”  Read the full news release from ETF here:

    Effective January 1, 2018, UW-Madison will no longer have the ability to offer domestic partner benefits, which includes State Group Health Insurance and the supplemental benefit plans.  “Group health insurance coverage for a member’s domestic partner and partner’s dependent children (who are not also the member’s dependent children) will end at 11:59pm on December 31st, 2017.  The domestic partner and partner’s dependent children will receive a COBRA opportunity to continue existing health insurance coverage for 36 months, provided the partner enrolls and pays the full monthly premium.”  The full details can be found on the ETF Domestic Partner Benefits website here:  Further questions should be directed to the UW-Madison campus benefits office at:

    Have faculty been involved in the process of drafting the GAPP document?

    Yes, faculty have been consulted throughout the process.  While there are no faculty members currently on the GAPP workgroup, Sarah Manglesdorf, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, is an executive sponsor of the project.  The Office of the Provost is the primary campus unit responsible for programs and policy resources for faculty at UW-Madison, including the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty and the University Committee, the faculty shared governance body.  The University Committee was also consulted prior to the GAPP work group being charged.  A final draft of GAPP will be shared with the University Committee and the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee (GFEC).