This legislative update was shared with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Faculty Senate yesterday. The senate meets the first Monday of every month at 3:30 pm during the academic year, October through May, except in January. Guests are welcome to attend the meetings. More information is here.
Former PROFS President and University Committee Chair Judith Burstyn recently appeared on Wisconsin Public Television’s Here & Now with Frederica Freyburg. Burstyn discussed Joint Finance Committee (JFC) action on the UW System portion of the 2019-21 Wisconsin Biennial Budget, which was approved 12-4 along party lines.
The Republican motion will continue the tuition freeze for two more years, but does not fund the freeze. The motion also included a $59 million increase in funding, $69 million less than Governor Evers proposed as part of his budget. The committee also voted to require JFC approval of how UW campuses will spend money earmarked for academic programming in high demand fields.
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents is meeting in Madison Thursday and Friday, April 4 and 5. The meeting, originally scheduled to be hosted by UW-Whitewater, will be held at UW System office in Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Avenue. Livestream coverage of the meeting is available here.
Regents met in committee Thursday morning.
The Education Committee considered approval of a change in UW-Green Bay’s mission statement and two UW collaborative degree programs. The committee also heard updates on the UW System associate degree program and the UW System Task Force on Advancing Teacher Education and School Leadership in Wisconsin.
The Business and Finance Committee heard updates on shared services and considered approval of new salary ranges for executives and several contractual agreements.
The Capital Planning and Budget Committee considered approval of several building and renovation projects and heard an update on State Building Commission action.
The Audit Committee heard updates on audit reports, risk management and compliance.
The full board will meet in closed and open session Friday afternoon. The board will discuss student behavioral health, the restructuring of UW Colleges and UW-Extension and high impact practices in open session.
On Friday, the board will hear reports from the Board President John Behling and UW System President Ray Cross and consider approval of committee action. Updates on the chancellor search at UW-Whitewater, President Trump’s recent executive order on campus speech, and the 2019-21 state budget are on the agenda.
After an almost three-month delay, Governor Scott Walker signed the $76 billion 2017-19 state budget into law on September 20. He made 98 partial vetoes that went unchallenged by the Legislature. PROFS joined other campus advocates in successfully advocating for new state funding – including funding for faculty and staff pay raises – in many years.
At the same time, PROFS is very concerned about two provisions added to a wrap-up omnibus motion without discussion:
Faculty workload: This provision requires the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents to create a policy that monitors faculty and instructional academic staff teaching loads. Each institution is also required to develop a policy to reward those that exceed standard (not defined) workloads. Chancellor Blank has indicated she thinks it is important to report all aspects of workload: research, outreach and teaching.
UW Chancellor and President qualifications: The wrap-up motion modified language previously passed by the Joint Finance Committee. The final language prohibits individual institutions from having a policy that requires chancellors to hold a tenured faculty position. UW-Madison Faculty Polices and Procedures (FP&P) currently requires the Chancellor and Provost to have tenure.
- Extension of the current four-year tuition freeze for two additional years.
- $26.3 million in outcomes-based funding. Regents will create metrics to measure progress toward goals. The governor used his veto pen to keep UW institutions from choosing which metrics will be used to measure progress.
- $5 million for high-demand degree programs.
- $3 million for the creation of the UW-Madison Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership.
- $10,000 for the review of policies related to academic freedom.
- $980,000 for UW Hospital and Clinics Carbone Cancer Center.
- $200,000 for the Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program.
- $100,000 for UW-Madison’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
- Creation of an engineering school at UW-Green Bay.
- Language that bars individual institutions from adopting a policy that would require chancellors and vice chancellors to have tenure or hold a terminal degree in their field.
- Expansion of tuition free-education programs for veterans and their families.
PROFS had deep concerns about policy items in the budget and asked the co-chairs of the finance committee and the governor to remove language relating to the qualifications for UW System President and Chancellor candidates and to amend the language creating the Thompson Center to eliminate the leadership board, allow for the creation of an advisory committee, and ensure the Thompson Center is subject to university governance. The full letter is here.
Regent Administrative Hiring Workgroup
A workgroup created by UW System Board of Regents President John Behling was tasked with review of UW System Chancellor and other top administrative positions (see above). Behling told fellow Regents earlier this year he would like UW System institutions to recruit non-academic candidates and “streamline” the hiring process for top administrative positions.
The group, which does not include a member from UW-Madison, is examining hiring practices and discussing expanding the search process to include non-traditional candidates from outside academia. The workgroup’s draft findings were released last week and Regents are expected to vote on the documents at their October meeting. PROFS met with Regent Drew Petersen, chair of the workgroup, earlier this summer to share UW-Madison faculty concerns. Peterson told PROFS he welcomes input from an ad hoc UW-Madison committee and will work with PROFS on strategy related to working with legislators and the governor on this topic.
AB 299, relating to campus speech
This bill, which passed the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee on a partisan vote, requires the Board of Regents to adopt a policy on free expression for all campuses. Under this bill, university administrators would be required to punish students who disrupt campus speakers. The bill would also require campuses to remain neutral on public policy issues. PROFS is registered in opposition to the legislation. Our statement on the bill is on the here.
Supporters of campus carry have said they intend to introduce legislation allowing concealed weapons on campus, but nothing has been introduced to date. PROFS is opposed to campus carry and continues to carefully monitor the issue.
Republicans who control the legislature appear to be split on legislation relating to the use of fetal tissue in scientific research. Two different bills have been introduced, one that follows existing federal law forbidding the sale of fetal tissue, but not research that uses it, and one that bans research using fetal tissue from abortions performed after January 1, 2017 and imposes hefty fines on anyone who uses the material. PROFS has assembled a working group comprised of faculty and industry representatives to advise us on this issue.
In July, Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn and Governor Scott Walker announced Foxconn’s intention to build a liquid crystal display manufacturing plant in Wisconsin. Wisconsin would provide $3 billion in state incentives over 15 years to Foxconn. The plant could ultimately provide 13,000 Foxconn jobs and thousands of related jobs. Legislation authorizing a financial package was signed into law September 18. Chancellor Rebecca Blank met with leaders of Foxconn prior to the announcement to discuss the advantages of locating such a facility near a major research institution like UW-Madison. Her statement on Foxconn is on the UW here.
UW System Tenure Policy Task Force
PROFS continues to actively follow the work of the UW System Tenure Policy Task Force. The Board of Regents meets Thursday, March 10 and will discuss recommendations of the Regent Education Committee. Board action on UW-Madison’s draft policy is not expected until April.
Republican leadership has said the Assembly has adjourned for the session, but the Senate plans to meet again March 15. Both houses could reconvene in special or extraordinary sessions. PROFS is monitoring and lobbying on several items:
- Assembly Bill 305/Senate Bill 260, Limits on Scientific Research PROFS is registered against AB 305 and SB 260, proposals that would make it illegal to provide or use for experimentation fetal body parts. If passed, the bills would criminalize the research and use of scientific material previously derived from fetal tissue. Action on the bills seems unlikely.
- Assembly Bill 480/Senate Bill 363, Campus Concealed Carry PROFS is registered against AB SB 363, legislation that would require UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System campuses to allow concealed carry of weapons in campus buildings. Current law permits concealed carry on campus grounds, but allows individual campuses to forbid weapons in buildings. PROFS is vigorously opposed to this legislation.
- Assembly Bill 814, Shared Governance PROFS is registered in favor of this bill, recently introduced by Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), which would return university shared governance to state statutes.
- Assembly Bill 898, Tenure PROFS is registered in favor of this bill, recently introduced by Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine). The proposal restores strong tenure language to state statutes.
- College Affordability Package The Governor announced a package of six bills that address college affordability last month. All six bills passed the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities and five of the six passed the Senate last week. The PROFS statement on the bills is here.
- Senate Bill 276, Parking Revenue Governor Walker signed this bill into law. It allows the university to spend parking revenue on campus safety and transportation programs. PROFS registered in favor of this proposal.
- Senate Bill 571, Sale of Agricultural Lands Governor Walker signed this bill into law. It expands UW System Board of Regent authority over agricultural lands. PROFS registered in favor of this proposal.
PROFS Forum on Self-insurance for State Employees
The Group Insurance Board met last month and voted to issue a request for proposals on self-insurance for state employees. PROFS hosted a forum featuring three insurance experts the following week. Video here.
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Yesterday, we received the text below from Donald Nichols, former president of PROFS, former chair of the University Committee, former Director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs, and someone who truly “has seen government work.” We post it…
Just a quick note: We’ve had many phone calls and emails from people who weren’t able to attend yesterday’s forum who wanted to know if it would be recorded. (It was already a pretty packed room, with a fair number…