Shared Governance at Risk at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

UWMadisonlogoWe are now beginning to see the effects of the recently passed budget bill in Wisconsin that eliminated the protections of tenure and shared governance from state statute for the University of Wisconsin. The bill specifically called for deleting a provision in law “specifying that the faculty of each institution be vested with responsibility for the immediate governance of such institution.” Despite claims by Chancellor Rebecca Blank at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that the budget bill would not change shared governance, the Chancellor just presented a proposal to the Board of Regents to waive the non-resident admissions cap for UW-Madison without consulting the Faculty Senate.

At this link, you can read a letter from the members of Executive Committee of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chapter of the AAUP protesting the bypassing of the Senate and calling on the Chancellor to “withdraw Resolution I.1.e and submit it to the appropriate faculty, staff and student governance bodies for appropriate deliberation in a process that embodies true shared governance.“

5 thoughts on “Shared Governance at Risk at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

  1. Initially, anyway, I have mixed feelings concerning Blank’s decision. On the one hand, faculty should have a hand in policies impacting the admission process- and costs certainly impact admission. On the other, to what extent do faculty ever get into the nitty-gritty of balancing a university budget?

    I’ve been employed as both faculty, and to a lessor extent, business management. At least when I was in those business management gigs- I found the budgeting process onerous. I also discovered that the lion’s share of budgeting & accounting never, ever come anywhere near the average (or above average) life of most faculty.

    So without any other knowledge, I ask, has Blank willfully side-stepped that faculty on this issue, or, is she simply acting upon the best advice of those whom are capable (supposedly, anyway)- of rendering financial decisions?

  2. David – I would encourage you to read the letter, which explains how Chancellor Blank’s decision side-stepped faculty. Two committees (one ad hoc, and the other a standing committee charged to review policy in this area) in the past 3 years have conducted in-depth study of admissions and tuition policy and identified a number of serious concerns with eliminating the non-resident admissions cap. Both committees concluded that additional engagement with faculty, staff, students and the public would be necessary prior to adopting any significant policy change involving changing the composition of the student body to increase revenue. This goes far beyond the “nitty-gritty of balancing a university budget.” Indeed, virtually any change within the domain of faculty has budget consequences. Shall we abrogate our primary responsibility for all of them?

    • Certainly I would not concede any ground. I was only curious about Blank’s view of this. Does she see it as a simple financial decision, or a broader issue, as you’ve indicated?

      Her behavior suggests she sees it as a budgetary move exclusively. If she sees it as a broader issue, then her prior public statements proclaiming to defend shared governance to the very end ought to be used to oust her.

      Duplicity of this kind should not be tolerated among a leader of her stature. If she is being duplicitous, then she needs to resign.

      • Thanks David. Notably, in her presentation to the Board of Regents yesterday, Chancellor Blank didn’t really discuss the budget implications at all (although we all know the money matters). It was all couched in terms of helping the state meet its workforce needs by bringing in talented students from out of state (who are actually less likely to remain in the state, but let’s ignore data for the time being). This is a matter of balancing the various obligations of our public mission, which is really at the core of faculty’s responsibilities. I’m not looking for her to resign — just to honor her promise that she would keep shared governance the same as it was before Act 55 demoted the faculty to a subordinate and “advisory only” position.

  3. I always believed that we had tuition caps on non resident tuition to help us attract a diverse study body. If we can only recruit WI students we will never reach the diversity our students need to face the “real” world. I would have to agree with David it may be time for Becky to move along or back to a private predominately white college

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