Category: The national context

PROFS Forum on the Future of Flagship Universities

States from coast to coast are considering or have already announced plans to drastically cut public higher education funding. At the same time, many state legislatures are introducing bills that limit or ban DEI efforts, dictate curriculum, and eliminate tenure.

Where does that leave the flagship university, once the crown jewel of public higher education?

PROFS will host a public forum on April 24 to discuss national trends, how UW-Madison compares to our flagship peers, and what that might mean for Wisconsin.

PROFS President Michael Bernard-Donals will moderate our panel:

The forum will be held in the Wisconsin Idea Room (Room 159) in the Education Building. Refreshments will be served.

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Wrecked: State Politics and the Deinstitutionalization of Public Higher Education

Wrecked by Barrett J. Taylor

The Havens Wright Center for Social Justice is sponsoring an online event featuring University of North Texas Counseling & Higher Education Professor Barrett J. Taylor. Taylor will discuss his most recent book, Wrecked: State Politics and the Deinstitutionalization of Public Higher Education, via Zoom at noon, Thursday, February 29. Pre-registration is required to attend.

From the publisher:

Higher education is a central institution in U.S. democracy. In the 2010s, however, many states that spent previous decades building up their higher education systems began to tear them down.

Growing hostility toward higher education reflected changing social forces that remade the politics of U.S. higher education. The political Right became increasingly reliant on angry white voters as higher education became more racially diverse. The Republican party became more closely connected to extremely wealthy donors as higher education became more costly.

In Wrecked, Barrett J. Taylor shows how these social changes set a collision course for the Right and higher education. These attacks fed a policy agenda of deinstitutionalization, which encompassed stark divestment from higher education but was primarily characterized by an attack on the institution’s social foundation of public trust.

In response to these attacks, higher education officials have offered a series of partial defenses that helped higher education to cope in the short-term but did nothing to defend the institution itself against the long-term threat of declining public trust. The failure to address underlying issues of mistrust allowed conflict to escalate to the point at which many states are now wrecking their public higher education systems.

Wrecked offers a unique and compelling perspective linking higher education policymaking to broader social and political forces acting in the twenty-first century.


PROFS Statement on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health

Last Friday, the United States Supreme Court voted 6-3 to overturn Roe v. Wade. PROFS is deeply concerned about the negative effects this will have on Wisconsin citizens, but also on the University of Wisconsin-Madison and its School of Medicine and Public Health. Our statement is below:

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Statements on Supreme Court Decision

The University of Wisconsin System, UW-Madison, and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health all released statements last Friday following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

UW System President Jay Rothman:

We know that abortion remains a highly contentious issue that directly affects our students. We are reviewing the U.S. Supreme Court decision to determine what impact it may have on our universities. Like others, we will monitor the legal process surrounding this issue and will adhere to the law as it continues to evolve.

UW-Madison Interim Chancellor John Karl Scholz:

This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health that overturns the precedent set by Roe v Wade almost 50 years ago. We recognize the decision evokes a wide range of feelings in our community as it alters long-standing federal protections and allows states to regulate abortion without federal constitutional standards.

While UW–Madison will continue to meet all applicable legal requirements, we are facing a period of uncertainty as the new legal status for abortion access in Wisconsin is interpreted and challenged. We know this uncertainty may affect some members of our community more than others.

We are concerned about the decision’s implications for patient care and clinical training of obstetrics and gynecology residents. We will continue to work to understand the full impact of the Supreme Court’s decision and assess its implications for the campus community.

We encourage you to seek support and community in ways that feel right to you. Campus resources are also available to anyone seeking assistance in processing change and uncertainty:

Students may contact University Health Services by calling 608-265-5600 (option 9) or schedule an appointment through MyUHS.Employees may access services through the Employee Assistance Office.

Employees may access services through the Employee Assistance Office.

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Dean Robert N. Golden, MD:

The decision by the Supreme Court of the United States on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health to overturn the abortion access precedent set by Roe v Wade has significant implications for the patients and populations we serve. The ruling is directly relevant to the relationship between women and their health care professionals, and we are assessing how it may impact clinical training.

We remain completely dedicated to our patients, and will provide the best care possible and trustworthy, accurate medical information. We will continue to provide outstanding, comprehensive obstetrics and gynecology residency training. And we will continue to advance health equity by identifying ways to support marginalized populations that are disproportionally affected by barriers to accessing reproductive healthcare.

We will continue to meet all applicable legal requirements. While there may be some uncertainties regarding legal interpretations of state statutes, we will continue to comply with laws related to reproductive health care.


Regent Tracey Klein Added to College Affordability Panel

UW System Regent Tracey Klein

PROFS is pleased to announce that University of Wisconsin System Regent Tracey Klein will serve as the third panelist at the upcoming forum on affordability and public higher education on Thursday, October 24.

Klein, a health care attorney for more than 30 years, was named to the Board of Regents by Governor Scott Walker in 2016. She is a chairs the Regent Education Committee and is also a member of the Executive Committee.

The forum will focus on the cost of delivering education, why it rises, and the implication of rising expenses – pressure on the state to subsidize the cost, students to pay higher tuition and the university to raise funds and pursue partnerships.

It will be held in the De Luca Forum in the Discovery Building at 4 pm on Thursday, October 24. Klein will be joined by UW-Madison professor Nicholas Hillman (moderater) and panelists David Feldman (professor, William & Mary) and UW-Madison Vice Chancellor Laurent Heller.

Save the Date: PROFS Forum on the Cost of Higher Education

PROFS is pleased to announce a campus forum on the cost of higher education on Thursday, October 24. This event will be held at 4 pm in the De Luca Forum in the Discovery Building, 330 North Orchard Street, and is open to the public.

Nicholas Hillman

The forum, moderated by UW-Madison Education Professor Nicholas Hillman, will examine college cost, in particular why costs have risen so dramatically in recent years and the implications of rising expenses. We will look at the the resulting pressure on the state to increase funding and students to pay higher tuition, along with pressure on the university to raise funds and pursue partnerships.

Our panel includes William & Mary Economics Professor David Feldman and UW-Madison Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Laurent Heller. A third panelist will be named soon.

David Feldman

David Feldman received his A.B. from Kenyon College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. Before joining the faculty at William and Mary in 1989, he taught at Duke and Colgate University. His current research examines college cost, the demand for higher education, and the role of federal and state policy toward higher education. He has published two books on the cost of higher education with his faculty colleague Robert Archibald, The Road Ahead for America’s Colleges and Universities and Why Does College Cost So Much?

Laurent Heller

Laurent Heller began his appointment as the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration in August, 2016. Heller has extensive experience in budgeting and finance, higher education strategy and business operations, having served as Vice Chancellor, Financial Planning and Analysis at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley.

UW-Madison’s Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership is a cosponsor of this event.

Shared Governance Forum

PROFS is pleased to sponsor a public forum on shared governance at 3 pm, Thursday, May 3 in the Wisconsin Idea Room in the Education Building.

Public higher education has faced enormous challenges in recent years — massive funding cuts, declining student enrollment, shifting perception on the value of a degree. Many legislative leaders have called for the University of Wisconsin System, and UW-Madison in particular, to operate more like a business, often citing shared governance as a major impediment to institutional efficiency.

Our panel of nationally known experts will guide our discussion.

  • Gary Rhoades, University of Arizona Professor, Director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education, former General Secretary AAUP
  • David Maxwell, Drake University President Emeritus, Association of Governing Boards Senior Consultant
  • Regina Millner, University of Wisconsin System Regent, Board President Emeritus
  • Thomas Harnisch, American Association of State Colleges and Universities Director of State Relations and Policy Analysis

Karen Herzog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel higher education reporter, will moderate.

This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Legislative Update

The Legislature is in the final weeks of the 2018 session and PROFS is closely monitoring several bills that could that could seriously affect UW-Madison:

  • “Mark Cook Bills” to Assist Faculty Entrepreneurship, Assembly Bill 758 and Senate Bill 671  Directed by faculty experts, PROFS worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce legislation related to University of Wisconsin research contracts. The faculty group, led by the late Mark Cook (Animal Science), identified the need to change state statutes that regulate how the university contracts with companies in which faculty or other university employees have a financial interest. Both bills have passed through committee and PROFS expects them to be scheduled for a floor vote sometime this month.
  • Bills Limiting Scientific Research, Assembly Bills 83 & 549 and Senate Bills 422 & 423  PROFS is carefully monitoring two bills that would limit the use of fetal tissue in scientific research and is registered against Senate Bill 423. Our statement is on the PROFS website and Facebook page.
  • Bill Limiting University of Wisconsin OB/GYN Training, Assembly Bill 206  PROFS is also registered against AB 206, a bill that would restrict abortion-related activities of UW System and UW Hospitals and Clinics employees. UW School of Medicine and Public Health Dean Robert Golden testified in July the bill would seriously hamper student training in obstetrics and gynecology and could possibly jeopardize the medical school’s accreditation.
  • Campus Carry  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.

Wisconsin Retirement System Seminar

PROFS is cosponsoring a La Follette School of Public Affairs seminar on the history of the Wisconsin Retirement System at 12:30 pm on Wednesday, February 21 in Union South. Wisconsin’s pension system is regarded as one of the best, and Gary Gates, the first secretary of the Department of Employee Trust Funds, will explain how the system was created and why Wisconsin has not experienced shortfalls like many other states.

Spring Primary

The Wisconsin Spring Primary is Tuesday, February 20. The only statewide race on the ballot is for Wisconsin Supreme Court where three candidates are vying for two spots on the April 3 general election ballot. More information on voting in Wisconsin is here.

Federal Relations

PROFS Steering Committee member Judith Burstyn recently met with Congressman Mark Pocan as a member of his Higher Education Advisory Group. Pocan gave the group an update on Congressional action related to higher-education policy and federally funded research.