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Frequently and Not So Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How may I study at UWCC?

    UWCC does not itself offer any degree programs. The University of Wisconsin - Madison, the institution where UWCC resides and with which UWCC is affiliated does, however, offer degree programs in subjects related to cooperatives, for example, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Department of Rural Sociology, School of Business (particularly the Center for Credit Union Research), Land Tenure Center, and others.

    In order to pursue a Master's or Ph.D. degree at UW-Madison, one must be admitted to both the department in which one is interested as well as the University of Wisconsin Graduate School.. The typical process would be to first find a department with faculty doing the types of research and studies in which the potential applicant is interested. Subsequent contact with those faculty members is recommended to gather more information about the program and its requirements. Once it is decided that a program of study fits the applicant's interest, an application for admission is requested from the department as well as the Graduate School. Normally, applications to the department include the opportunity to apply for financial support which does vary across departments.

  2. Question: Can you send me the names and contact information of co-ops so I may make a business proposition to them?

    UWCC does not provide contact information for the business purposes of outside organizations. This includes email addresses submitted to UWCC for the purpose of receiving site and news updates. Our policy, however, does not precluded anyone from using information freely available on the site to contact co-ops themselves.

  3. Question: A residential Co-op is formed and subsequently begins to sell shares to its residents; later, it is discovered that a license to sell shares have never been given to the co-op by the state. Can you please explain to me the importance of this license, the legal consequence its board of directors and management are facing and the proper steps to fix the matter?

    It seems to a UWCC staff member that the person is saying that the cooperative was never formally incorporated with the state (hence it has no "license" to sell co-op shares). In the US, there are no separate licenses to sell shares, the legal authority to do so comes with legal incorporation.

    The legal consequences are that the board and management are selling invalid shares (to a corporation that does not legally exist) and thus, the staff member believes, could be facing charges of fraud (although since it was not intentional it is doubtful this would happen). It is believed that the board would face the greatest charges, since the manager technically acts under their direction, unless he is doing this without their knowledge (or, they believe the co-op was incorporated).

    The fix: incorporate the business with the state and/or federal government.

  4. Question: I was wondering if you could tell me if the program I run is truly a co-op. We've been calling ourselves one for years (this is my first year) but we are funded through nominal membership fees and oil commissions, do not meet with our members regularly for democratic participation, and are not owned by our members. We are maybe more like a buying pool, in which we negotiate for cheaper prices with oil companies using our collective buying power. All of our profits (of which there are few!) go to fund consumer advocacy work. Should we be calling ourselves a co-op?

    This did not sound like a co-op to any of the UWCC staff members. Officially, at least in Wisconsin, the incorporating or establishing paperwork should make it clear whether it is a co-op or not. In Wisconsin law, technically the word "co-op" can only be in the name of entities which truly are incorporated as a co-op. But it is not strictly enforced here, especially with small ventures or organizations, like some of the student housing co-ops. Some states may not forbid the improper use of the term and may not even have separate co-op statutes. One UWCC staff member suggested that, while some might object to the advice, the organization might go ahead and keep using the term if that is what the "members" are used to. They might, however, consider making changes to conform more with standard co-op practices (like annual meetings). Another staff member suggested that the person contact NCBA. They have a program that specifically addresses the use of the term cooperative by non-co-ops.

  5. Question: Can anyone in your organization offer any suggestions for marketing our co-op to various other co-ops and like-minded organizations? What, do you think, would be the best periodical or other print media to advertize ourselves in?

    An excellent place to advertise or make contact with potential co-operative purchasing agents is in the monthly NCBA journal.

  6. Question: Do cooperatives (without loosing their identity) would be able to enter in stock markets like other kind of corporations and exchange their company's share? and if so, can you give me som examples of successful cooperatives in stock markets.

    Yes, some large co-ops in the US trade their stock (class B, non-voting shares) on the stock market. A notable example is CHS since these share holders do not vote, the co-op is still controlled by the patron-members..