The following statement was released today by the AAUP’s University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee chapter.
UWM AAUP Calls on the Board of Regents to Support and Sustain UWM’s Research and Access Missions
The eyes of the country are on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) this week as the campus hosts a Democratic presidential debate. What will UWM look like the next time it hosts a presidential debate? The answer may depend on actions taken by the Board of Regents in the very near future.
UWM plays a vital and unique role in public higher education in Wisconsin. Of the 26 UW System campuses, UWM is the only one with both a research mission and an access mission. Situated in one of the most segregated cities in the United States, UWM is the “urban access campus” of the UW System. UWM combines world-class doctoral research programs with an open door for students from the Milwaukee region and around the state, fulfilling the mission of the Wisconsin Idea: to extend the boundaries of the university to the boundaries of the state. No other Wisconsin institution puts all of this on a single campus.
UWM’s research mission is achieving unprecedented success: just last week, UWM joined the ranks of the “highest research activity,” or R1, universities in the Carnegie Classifications for the first time. UWM’s access mission is reflected in the fact that UWM educates the most Wisconsin residents, the most veterans, and the most students of color of any institution in the UW System.
Unfortunately, all of this is now at risk. Massive funding cuts, combined with destructive and unnecessary changes to tenure and shared governance, threaten to undermine UWM’s research mission and degrade the quality of the education that UWM’s students have access to. The campus now finds itself in an acute budget crisis, with major cuts to core functions looming. What is more, rumors have begun to swirl out of Madison: some Regents have suggested that the UW System cannot afford to support two research campuses.
UWM AAUP calls on the Board of Regents to affirm its support for UWM’s research mission via resolution at its upcoming meeting on March 10. We furthermore call on the Board of Regents to outline explicit steps for increasing funding to UWM, commensurate with our dual research and access missions and our newfound R1 status. UWM currently receives less than half the funding per student that our R1 peer, UW-Madison, receives from the UW System.
The Regents have a choice to make: UWM’s unique blend of research excellence and broad public access cannot survive under the present conditions of fiscal austerity.