Author: Michelle Felber

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank Discusses Plans for Combating Covid-19 as In-Person Learning Resume

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank appeared on PBS Wisconsin’s Here and Now last week to discuss the university’s plans for in-person learning this fall. Classes begin September 8 with a majority of courses offered in-person. While UW-Madison does not have a vaccine mandate, any student, faculty member or staff person who is unvaccinated must test weekly.

UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson Discusses Reopening UW Campuses

Last Thursday, University of Wisconsin System Interim President Tommy Thompson participated in a virtual WisPolitics luncheon and shared his plans to welcome students, faculty, and staff back to campus this fall. Thompson also reiterated his view that the Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules does not have authority to require UW System to submit Covid-19 policies to the committee for its approval.

 

 

UW System Special Regent Committee on Governance Issues

Earlier this month, University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents President Ed Manydeeds appointed six Regents to a special committee to examine governance issues. The creation of the Special Regent Committee on Governance Issues is the result of a resolution passed at the Board’s May meeting.

Manydeeds appointed the following Regents to the committee:

  • Regent Scott Beightol
  • Regent Héctor Colón
  • Regent Michael Grebe
  • Regent Tracey Klein
  • Regent John Miller
  • Regent Cris Peterson

Manydeeds and Regent Vice President Karen Walsh will serve as ex officio members of the committee, which will be chaired by Regent Klein.

The committee’s first meeting is at 2:30 pm, Tuesday, August 31. The full agenda is below and a link to join the Webex stream of the meeting is here.

After discussing the committee’s charge, the members will discuss the chancellor search process. UW System Interim Vice President Jeff Buhrandt will discuss proposed changes to Regent Policy Document 6-4, “Selection Process for System President, Chancellors, Vice Chancellors and UW System Senior Leadership Positions.” Changing the composition of the chancellor search committees is among the proposed changes.

Regents most recently made changes to RPD 6-4 in 2017 when they voted to add language to the policy that limited the size of search committees to ten — five Regents and five members of the university community, including two faculty members. Regents also added language to the policy that removed the requirement for a chancellor to have earned a terminal degree in their field.

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UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson: Running UW System is Our Responsibility

Pushing back against a directive by the Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR), UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson offered his thoughts in an op-ed released today.

Earlier this month, the Republican-led committee voted along party lines and ordered UW System to submit Covid-19 related policies to the committee as emergency rules subject to JCRAR approval.

Thompson said today he doesn’t believe the committee has oversight and does not plan to comply with the committee’s order. His op-ed is below.

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State Rep. Adam Neylon on Committee Oversight of UW COVID-19 Policies

State Representative Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) appeared on WISN’s UPFRONT yesterday to discuss recent action by the Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) that would require UW System to promulgate emergency rules for COVID-19 related policies within 30 days. The committee, which is co-chaired by Neylon and State Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), would then approve or suspend the proposed rules.

Neylon told host Adrienne Pedersen the committee’s intent is to prevent overreach by the university:

“Too often, we’ve allowed agencies, the administration, the UW System, to circumvent the legislative process in doing these unilateral rules that have the same impact as law, without going through the legal legislative process.”

PROFS is strongly opposed to the action of the JCRAR. Our statement is here.

 

July Board of Regents Meeting

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents is meeting in Madison today and tomorrow, July 8 and 9. Registration to view livestream coverage of open portions of the meeting is available here.

Regents met in committee this morning:

The full board is meeting this afternoon and tomorrow morning:

Thursday afternoon, the board will hear reports from Board of Regents President Edmund Manydeeds and Interim President Tommy Thompson. Manydeeds is presiding over his first meeting since his election as board president last month.

The board will discuss a return to in-person instruction in the fall and hear an update on legislative issues before voting on the 2021-22 annual operating budget. The proposed budget does not include a tuition increase despite the decision by the state’s Joint Finance Committee to not extend the 8-year tuition freeze, freeing the Regents to include a tuition increase this fiscal year.

On Friday, the board will discuss the presidential search process, approve committee action, hear a report on summer bridge programs for incoming freshmen, and recognize the service of Emeritus Regents John Behling and Becky Levzow.

 

PROFS Statement on the Legislative Budget

Last night, the Wisconsin State Senate approved the the 2021-23 state budget proposal by a vote of 23-9. Three Democrats — Senate Majority Leader Janet Bewley, Brad Pfaff and Jeff Smith — joined all the Republicans present to vote in favor of the bill. This is the first time since 2007 that a budget bill passed with bipartisan support. The bill now awaits action from Governor Tony Evers who can sign the bill into law, sign it with partial vetoes, or fully veto the bill.

PROFS statement on the budget is below:

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Legislative Update

State Budget

PROFS has been working hard for the best possible budget for UW-Madison faculty since late last year. Governor Tony Evers introduced his budget proposal in February, but Republican legislative leaders rejected the plan and began anew in the Joint Finance Committee.

UW System

The Joint Finance Committee voted on the UW System portion of the budget late last month. The committee approved, along party lines, lifting the 8-year tuition freeze, which was not in Evers’ budget, and increasing UW System funding by $8.25 million, a fraction of the $192 million increase the governor proposed. The increase in funding is earmarked for specific programs, including $5 million for the Freshwater Collaborative, $2 million for UW-Extension county co-op agents, and $250,000 for a Nelson Institute collaborative program with the Department of Defense.

Pay Plan

The Joint Finance Committee also voted to provide funding for pay increases for all state employees, including UW-Madison faculty and staff, of 2 percent in each of the next two years. PROFS urged the committee to adopt a robust pay plan for the university before the committee met earlier this month, noting that strong faculty salaries are crucial for recruitment and retention and allow UW-Madison to remain competitive among our peers.

Timeline

The Republican-led Joint Finance Committee concluded its work on June 17. The Assembly will vote on the bill on Tuesday, June 29, with the Senate vote likely to follow on Wednesday, June 30. The bill will then go to the governor for his signature, partial veto, or full veto. The fiscal year begins July 1, and the current spending levels contained in the 2019-21 budget will be in place until Governor Evers takes action. Should the governor veto the entire budget, the current spending plan continues through June 2023 or until another 2021-23 biennial budget is passed by the Legislature.

Legislation

PROFS is also following and taking positions on a number of bills and proposals:

Assembly Bill 177/Senate Bill 209  PROFS registered against these bills that limit the use of drop boxes for returning absentee ballots.

Assembly Bill 192/Senate Bill 203  PROFS registered against these bills that place new restrictions on absentee ballots.

Assembly Bill 201/Senate Bill 204  PROFS registered against these bills that make it harder to use absentee ballots and register to vote electronically.

PROFS is strongly opposed to legislation that makes voting more difficult for faculty, staff, and students. Our statement is here.

Assembly Bill 77/Senate Bill 80  PROFS is registered in favor of these bills, which provide $1 million for state specialists who provide certain UW-Extension services. Public testimony in favor of this legislation is   Similar funding was added to the state budget by the Joint Finance Committee.

Assembly Bill 195/Senate Bill 323  PROFS registered against these bills that prohibit transgender women from participating in UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System intercollegiate, intramural, and club sports. Our statement on this legislation is  .

Assembly Bill 347/Senate Bill 375  PROFS registered against these bills that prohibit UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System from requiring testing for, or vaccination against, COVID-19.

Assembly Bill 362/Senate Bill 359  PROFS registered in favor of these bills that restore previous shared governance language to state statutes.

Assembly Bill 363/Senate Bill 360  PROFS registered in favor of these bills that restore previous tenure language to state statutes.

Assembly Bill 370/Senate Bill 260  PROFS registered against these bills that prohibit UW System and UW Hospital and Clinics from, while in the scope of their employment, performing or assisting the performance of an abortion. This legislation could jeopardize the accreditation of the obstetrics and gynecology residency program.

LRB-3355  PROFS will oppose this legislation that bans instruction on systemic racism (referred to in the media as Critical Race Theory) at UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System when introduced.