The national context

Campus Speech Bill Passes Assembly

Assembly Bill 299, dubbed the Campus Free Speech Act, passed the Assembly Wednesday, June 21 on a 61-36 vote. Republican Bob Gannon of West Bend joined the Democrats in opposing the bill. A statement of PROFS’ opposition to the bill is here.

Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum), the bill’s main author, maintains the legislation is necessary to ensure all voices are heard on campus, citing incidents at Middlebury College and the University of California-Berkeley as evidence that free speech is stifled on college campuses.

PROFS lobbied against the bill, noting that in 2010 the University of Wisconsin Faculty Senate adopted a policy (Faculty Document 2186) that protects speech on campus. In 2015, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents adopted a resolution affirming academic freedom, including free speech, on all UW campuses.

Under the amended bill (below), the Board of Regents would be required to adopt a policy that would apply to all UW System institutions and supersede any existing Regent or campus policies. The legislation also requires mandatory punishments for students violators and employee and new student training on free speech annually.

The bill now moves to the State Senate.

March Board of Regents Meeting

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents is meeting in Madison today, March 9. All meetings will be held in Gordon Dining and Event Center, 770 West Dayton Street. Livestream coverage of the full board meeting is here.

The Subcommittee on Investments and Committee on Education will meet before the full board begins at 9:30 am. The education committee will consider the post-tenure review policies of UW-Extension, UW-Parkside and UW-Stout.

The full board will hear updates from UW System President Ray Cross and Board of Regents President Regina Millner. Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, will lead a discussion on public higher education and Susan Baxter, Executive Director of the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology, will discuss Cal State’s system-wide biotechnology efforts.

 

UW-Madison Drops in Research Expenditure Rankings

nsf1For the first time since 1972, UW-Madison does not rank in the top five in research expenditures as ranked by the National Science Foundation. UW-Madison dropped from fourth to sixth this year, with $1.07 billion in research spending in 2015.

Johns Hopkins University continues to lead in research funding ($2.31 billion), followed by the University of Michigan ($1.37 billion), the University of Washington ($1.18 billion), the University of California-San Francisco ($1.13 billion), and the University of California-San Diego ($1.1 billion). Among the top 30 universities, Wisconsin led among the four that experienced a drop in spending, with a 3.6 percent reduction.

UW-Madison Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Marsha Mailick noted the impact of disinvestment by the state:

“We are extremely proud of our faculty, staff and students but if Wisconsin is to remain at the pinnacle of American research universities, the state will need to reinvest to be sure we have the faculty positions and conditions necessary to attract and retain the best researchers.”

Alice Dreger: Galileo’s Middle Finger

Alice Dreger

PROFS is pleased to cosponsor a public discussion with Alice Dreger, a former clinical professor at Northwestern University.

Dreger, author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, will talk about academic freedom and how it relates to research. She will also share ways in which researchers can work individually and together to protect themselves.

She will speak at noon, Friday, March 4 in the Wisconsin Idea Room in the Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall.

This is event is hosted by the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) and cosponsored by the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, the Department of History ​of Science, and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.

Chancellor Blank: Public Research Universities are Centers of American Innovation and Education

Chancellor Rebecca Blank offers her view on public research universities and their role in Tuesday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Blank writes that top public research universities like the University of Wisconsin-Madison play an important role in keeping the United States at the forefront of the global economy by educating the majority of skilled workers. At the same time, public research universities conduct basic research that is essential to future innovations:

“The importance of research universities in educating top scientists, engineers and doctors is well understood. But the second part of our mission is equally important and often forgotten or misconstrued. Those who criticize our faculty for not teaching enough fail to recognize that teaching is only half their work.

At a research university, faculty are expected to actively engage in producing and publishing research results. And most faculty are expected to raise the money needed to support their work by writing proposals to federal agencies, foundations and private industry.”

Blank acknowledges that funding for research has slowed in recent years, with potentially devastating consequences as other nations increase their research funding.

“This nation’s public research universities are centers of American innovation and education. Maintaining these institutions and maintaining strong federal funding for their research on big, complex and important problems is critical to keeping this nation competitive in today’s global economy.”

The full article is here.

UW-Madison to Host Former Congressmen Obey and Petri April 13

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of Federal Relations will host an event featuring former Congressmen David Obey and Thomas Petri at 3:30 pm Monday, April 13 in Tripp Commons in the Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street.

The forum, one stop in a statewide tour of college campuses, will focus on the importance of civic participation and thoughtful bipartisan discussion of key policy issues. Obey suggested the lecture series after Petri announced he would not run for re-election in 2014:

“I just thought that, given all the negative vibes about what is happening — especially in Madison — that it would be good if we could have a bipartisanship roadshow to simply talk, especially to college students, about the importance of politics and how politics have changed since we got involved with it.”

Together, Obey, the longest-serving Wisconsin member of Congress, and Petri served in Congress for almost 80 years. 

The Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, the David R. Obey Civic Resource Center, the Wisconsin Humanities Council/Working Lives Project, UW-Madison Department of Political Science, the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, and the Elections Research Center are event partners.

AAUP Statement on Proposed UW System Public Authority Plan

aaup-logo-2_0American Association of University Professors President Rudy Fichtenbaum released a statement (below) yesterday calling for the University of Wisconsin System administration to oppose the proposal to transform UW System from a state agency into a public authority.

Fichtenbaum says the proposal could profoundly undermine tenure, due process, and shared governance. In particular, he is concerned about the statutory removal of these faculty rights.

On Point with Tom Ashbrook: Testing The ‘Wisconsin Idea’ Of Public Higher Education

on point logo

Today’s first hour of On Point, a National Public Radio radio talk show hosted by Tom Ashbrook, featured a discussion of the Wisconsin Idea, Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts for the University of Wisconsin System, and how they relate to the the governor’s national political ambitions. Audio is below.

University of Wisconsin-Madison history professor John Sharpless and academic staff member Noel Radomski, director of WISCAPE, were joined on the panel by two members of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff — higher education reporter Karen Herzog and columnist/blogger Christian Schneider.