UW-Madison Professors: Keep Hands Off the GAB

Four University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientists write in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that politicians should not interfere with the management of the Government Accountability Board (GAB). Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) recently called for the removal of GAB director Kevin Kennedy, saying the board was dysfunctional and undemocratic.

PROFS Steering Committee member Donald Moynihan, Barry Burden, David Canon, and Kenneth Mayer contend the board operates independently and faces criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. They write the board is comprised of former non-partisan judges nominated by the governor and approved by a majority of the State Senate. The six-member board has the authority to remove the director if they choose.

The four professors also cite a recent journal article that found the GAB to be the country’s top model for independent election administration. According to that article, Wisconsin has the only non-partisan multi-member elections board in the country.

The full column is here.

First Gubernatorial Debate Tonight

Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke will face off tonight in the first of two scheduled debates. The debate, sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, will be held at 7 pm in Eau Claire. It will follow a traditional format and be moderated by former Milwaukee broadcaster Jill Geisler.

A list of radio and television stations offering live and delayed coverage is here. Livestream coverage is available on the Wisconsin Public Television and Channel 3000 websites. An archived copy of the debate will also be available on the C-SPAN website.

The second debate will be held next Friday evening in Milwaukee.

United States Supreme Court Blocks Wisconsin Voter ID Law

The United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 last night to block implementation of Wisconsin’s voter identification law. Further action on the case is not expected until after the November election, meaning voters will not need to show identification at the polls next month.

Last month, a panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wisconsin’s law could be implemented while the court considered the constitutionality of the law. Opponents of voter identification legislation filed an emergency request to block the law with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, the justice responsible for the Seventh Circuit. Kagan took the case to the full court, which ruled last night. The court must now decide whether or not to hear the case.

The ruling is here.

PROFS opposed this legislation.

Chancellor Blank on the 2015-17 State Biennial Budget

Chancellor Rebecca Blank offers her perspective on Wisconsin’s upcoming 2015-17 biennial budget process in her most recent Blank’s Slate blog post.

Blank writes the budget will be the primary focus of the governor and legislators in January, and UW-Madison should prepare itself for the possibility of continued cuts. The state is on track to end the year with an almost $1 billion structural deficit, and the university must compete with other high-need funding areas for limited state resources. Because the budget process is lengthy — it often stretches into June or July — the chancellor has asked deans and directors to model cuts of 2, 4, and 6 percent.

The chancellor plans to coordinate efforts with PROFS and ASPRO, the Academic Staff Professionals Organization, and will reach out to alumni and members of the business community as she makes the case for increased funding for UW-Madison with legislators.

October Board of Regents Meeting

uw system logoThe University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will meet at UW-Stevens Point Thursday and Friday, October 9 and 10. Livestream coverage of the meeting will be available here.

The regents will meet in committees Thursday morning:

The Education Committee will discuss updates on credit transfer agreements, changes to faculty bylaws at UW-Platteville, and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Wisconsin Partnership program.

The Business and Finance Committee will discuss faculty and staff base salary adjustments for FY2014, faculty turnover, the financial management report, and the report of the funding allocation working group.

According to the agenda, 44 percent of faculty and instructional staff at UW-Madison received a non-promotion base salary adjustment averaging $8,772. Five percent of UW-Madison faculty received a lump sum payment averaging $2,772.

Seventy-four faculty members left UW-Madison last year; 31 retired and slightly more than half left the institution.

The funding allocation working group recommends that base funding should not be reallocated among institutions and each institution should retain its tuition dollars. The group also recommends that the president and board retain authority over the distribution of any new flexible state funding.

The Capital Planning and Budget Committee will discuss its priorities and goals and two additional capital budget projects for 2015-17.

The Research, Economic Development and Innovation Committee will hear an update on partnerships with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

The full board will meet Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. UW System President Ray Cross will introduce a report on program revenue balances and the board will hear an update on the Flexible Option on Thursday.

According to the program revenue report, UW-Madison has lowered its tuition balance by 41 percent, from $143 million in 2013 to $84.5 million in 2014. The fund balance was lowered from 14 percent of expenses to 8 percent, well under the 12 percent threshold implemented by the legislature earlier this year.

The regents will hear updates from staff and committees on Friday.

 

Shared Governance Reception

sift_winnow_arch06_0292UW-Madison will host its first-ever shared governance reception for faculty and staff tomorrow, Tuesday, October 7 from 3 to 5 pm in the Sonata Room of the Gordon Event Center, 770 West Dayton Street. Chancellor Rebecca Blank will deliver remarks at 3:30 pm.

Unlike some universities, shared governance at UW System institutions is codified in Wisconsin statutes and Board of Regent policy. PROFS is a product of shared governance, having been created by the Faculty Senate in 1976. We encourage faculty to attend the reception and learn more about shared governance and how to become more involved in governance groups and committees.