UW

Legislative Update

The Legislature is in session and PROFS is closely monitoring several bills that could severely affect UW-Madison:

Proposed Bill to Assist Faculty Entrepreneurship, LRB-4627

Led by faculty experts, PROFS worked with a bipartisan group of legislators who plan 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, noting current law is slow and cumbersome and ultimately leads to lost contracts.

Bills Limiting Scientific Research, 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 this 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.

Federal Budget

PROFS is closely monitoring Senate and House tax reform efforts and has contacted members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation to express concern that both bills would seriously harm higher education. In particular, PROFS is opposed to a provision in the House version that would tax graduate student tuition waivers, making the cost to attend graduate school out of reach for many students. The federal budget proposals coupled with many years of declining state support, seriously threaten public higher education.

UW System Restructuring

Last month, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents approved the implementation of a plan to reorganize UW Colleges and Extension. Under the proposal, UW Colleges would be integrated with four-year institutions, Cooperative Extension would become part of UW-Madison, and Wisconsin Public Television would shift to UW System.

Bipartisan Legislation on Faculty Entrepreneurial Efforts

PROFS is pleased that a bipartisan group of legislators is working to introduce legislation (below) related to University of Wisconsin research contracts. Last year, PROFS assembled a small group of faculty who have created businesses to examine ways to encourage UW-Madison faculty to become more entrepreneurial.

The group, led by the late Mark Cook (Animal Science), also included Chemistry professor Robert Hamers and emeritus professor Rock Mackie (Medical Physics). The group 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, noting current law is slow and cumbersome and ultimately leads to lost contracts.

PROFS wrote a statement calling for new legislation and worked with UW-Madison attorneys on statutory language. Former Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), chair of the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges and a member of the Joint Finance Committee, agreed have the bill drafted. PROFS also secured the support of UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW System President Ray Cross.

Senators Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) and Fred Risser (D-Madison) and Representatives David Murphy (R-Greenville) and Terese Berceau (D-Madison) have taken the lead on the bill and are encouraging their colleagues to support the legislation (below).

 

November Legislative Update

The Legislature has shifted its focus to pending legislation following the completion of the 2017-19 state budget earlier this fall. Both the Assembly and Senate have scheduled committee work and several days of floor debate before the Legislature concludes its work next month. PROFS is closely monitoring several bills that could severely affect UW-Madison:

  • Bills Limiting Scientific Research, Senate Bills 422 & 423  Last week, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety discussed two bills that would limit the use of fetal tissue in scientific research. PROFS is registered against SB 423 and presented testimony against the bill. Our statement is here.
  • 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 this 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.

Regent Update

  • UW System Restructuring  The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents announced a major reorganization of UW Colleges and Extension last month. Under the proposal, UW Colleges would be integrated with four-year institutions, Cooperative Extension would become part of UW-Madison, and Wisconsin Public Television would shift to UW System. The Regents are expected to vote on the implementation of the plan Thursday.
  • Administrative Hiring  The Regents adopted new rules relating to the hiring of top administrators. Under new rules, institutions cannot require top administrators to hold a terminal degree or have tenure. UW-Madison Faculty Policies & Procedures had such a rule in place. The new rules also cut the number of faculty on search committees and call for recruiting more candidates from the private sector. PROFS was opposed to the changes and strongly encouraged Regents to reconsider their plan. Our statement is on the PROFS website and Facebook page.
  • Campus Speech  The Regents also adopted new rules relating to freedom of expression on campus. The new language outlines specific punishment, including suspension, for students who violate the policy.

Democratic Legislators to UW System President Ray Cross: Include Stakeholders in UW Restructuring Plan

Twenty Democratic legislators wrote to University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross last week (letter below), sharing their concern over the recently announced UW restructuring plan and urging him to include stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, students and members of the community in the process. The Board of Regents will discuss the plan November, 9.

UW System Restructuring Proposal

Last week, the University of Wisconsin System proposed a sweeping merger plan that would align its 13 two-year campuses with seven of its 13 four-year institutions nearby:

Details from UW System are here. Representatives from UW System will request approval from the Board of Regents to proceed with implementation of the plan, which would go into effect July 1, 2018.

Remarks from UW System President Ray Cross:

Change often produces uncertainty, but we cannot be afraid to pursue needed reforms. We must restructure these two organizations given the state’s demographic challenges, budgetary constraints, and the need for closer alignment between research and practice. We want to leverage the strength of our four-year institutions at a time when overall enrollments at UW Colleges are declining.

Our goal is to expand access and provide more educational opportunities for more students, while ensuring our faculty are appropriately organized and supported.  We are committed to making the transition as smooth as possible for students, faculty, and staff.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank offered this statement:

We are pleased to welcome Cooperative Extension and Extension Conference Centers to UW–Madison. The roots of Cooperative Extension are intertwined with those of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the state of Wisconsin itself. Cooperative Extension is personally important to me because both of my parents served as extension agents.

Extension embodies the outreach mission of the university, spanning all 72 counties of the state. Indeed, many UW–Madison faculty are partially funded by Cooperative Extension.

We share a similar mission, inspired by the Wisconsin Idea.

There are many details of this proposal yet to be resolved which we’ll be addressing in the coming months. We look forward to working with UW Cooperative Extension leadership, President Cross, and UW System to integrate these programs into UW–Madison.

In an email to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UW-Madison University Committee Chair Anja Wanner expressed concern about the lack of communication about the plan:

We are very much aware of the demographic developments that have led to the restructuring plan, of course but, as far as I can tell, nobody was informed of the plan itself until it was a done deal, which I find troubling.

Cross also appeared on UpFront with Mike Gousha Sunday, October 15 to discuss the plan:

 

 

October Board of Regents Meeting

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will meet Thursday and Friday, October 5 and 6 at UW-Stout. The full-board portions of the meeting Thursday afternoon and Friday morning will be livestreamed.

The Regents meet in committee Thursday morning:

  • The Education Committee will consider two new degree programs and hear a report from the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Topics include outcomes-based funding, enrollment, low-enrollment degree programs and student transfer policy.
  • The Business and Finance Committee will consider several contractual agreements, review and approve changes to the policy on the use of university information technology resources and hear reports on several topics, including program revenue balances and segregated fees.
  • The Capital Planning and Budget Committee will hear an update on the State Building Commission, discuss strategy for the 2019-21 capital budget and consider approval of several items relating to UW System campus properties. The committee will also meet in closed session to discuss the naming of a UW-Madison facility.
  • The Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee will hear updates on economic development efforts at UW-Stout, UW-Extension and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
  • The Audit Committee will discuss many reports, including the Fiscal Year 2018 Audit Plan Progress report and tuition policy reports from seven UW institutions.

Thursday afternoon, the full board will discuss the report and consider recommendations (below) from the Administrative Hiring Workgroup. This group, chaired by Regent Drew Petersen, began meeting in August to consider changes in the hiring requirements for the UW System President and UW Chancellors, Provosts and Vice Chancellors.

The group did not include representation from UW-Madison, but accepted input from an ad hoc committee of three UW-Madison faculty members appointed by the University Committee. Their response to the Regent workgroup is here.

Friday morning, the full board will hear reports from the UW System President Cross and Regent President John Behling. They will also consider a proposed policy on freedom of expression. The board previously adopted statements on freedom of expression in December, 2015 and July, 2017.

The proposed policy codifies the previous statements and outlines the punishment for students who disrupt the expressive rights of others:

 

 

 

 

 

UW System Board of Regents Administrative Hiring Workgroup Recommendations

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents Administrative Hiring Workgroup recently released draft documents relating to their work on streamlining the hiring process for the System President and UW institution Chancellors (below). The Regents are expected to review these documents at their meeting October 5 and 6 at UW-Stout.

Regent President John Behling created the workgroup earlier this summer to examine the hiring of of non-traditional President and Chancellor candidates and to streamline the hiring processes of those positions. Regent Drew Petersen chaired the committee, which did not include a representative from UW-Madison.

An ad hoc committee of UW-Madison faculty is working to respond to the recommendations. Faculty are also encouraged to share their thoughts on the Administrative Hiring Workgroup webpage.

2017-19 State Budget Documents

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a summary of AB 64, the 2017-19 biennial budget, along with individual agency summaries, including UW System (below). These documents reflect the Governor’s original proposal and changes made by the Joint Finance Committee.

Both houses of the legislature must pass the bill, which will be taken up by the Assembly tomorrow, Wednesday, September 13. Governor Walker said last week he hopes to sign the bill later this month.

Tracking of Faculty Workload, Language Regarding Hiring of Chancellors Added to Budget

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance concluded its work on the 2017-19 state budget last night with the adoption along party lines of a “wrap-up” motion that included several non-fiscal policy items relating to the University of Wisconsin System (highlighted below, pages 2, 8, 9).

Faculty Workload Reporting

The committee restored language originally proposed by the governor in February. Each UW institution will be required to create a policy that monitors faculty and instructional academic staff teaching loads. Each institution will also be required to develop a policy for rewarding faculty and instructional staff who exceed standard workloads. Aggregate data must be published on UW System’s online accountability dashboard and included in legislatively mandated accountability reports.

Qualifications of UW System President, Chancellor, Provost and Vice Chancellor positions

The committee modified previously adopted language relating to the hiring of university leadership positions. The new language prohibits individual campuses from adopting a policy that requires the Board of Regents to only consider candidates who hold tenure or a terminal degree in their field. The committee had previously applied that prohibition to the Board of Regents. UW-Madison Faculty Policies and Procedures (FP&P) currently requires the Chancellor and Provost to hold a tenured faculty position.

Earlier in the budget process, PROFS asked the co-chairs of the finance committee to remove the proposed language. A Regent working group is currently reviewing the hiring process and expects to release their recommendations later this fall. PROFS is carefully monitoring the group’s work.

Pay Plan

The motion also changes the dates for the proposed 2 percent pay plan for all state employees, including UW faculty and staff, from September 30, 2018 and May 26, 2019 to July 1, 2018 and January 1, 2019. The pay plan must also be approved by the Joint Committee on Employment Relations.