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.

Legislative Update

Progress on the state’s 2017-19 biennial budget is picking up as the Joint Committee on Finance is scheduled to meet today (Tuesday, September 5) to vote on the state’s transportation budget. Until a new budget passed, the state continues to spend according to the 2015-17 budget.

Since the budget was introduced in February, PROFS has been busy meeting with legislative leaders and lobbying for the best possible outcome for University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty.

State Budget

In May, the Joint Finance Committee approved along party lines an omnibus motion containing several provisions relating to the university. Key points:

  • 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.
  • $5 million for high-demand degree programs.
  • $3 million for the creation of the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership at UW-Madison.
  • $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 the Board of Regents from adopting a policy that would require UW campus chancellors and vice chancellors and the UW System President to have tenure or hold a terminal degree in their field.
  • Expansion of tuition free-education programs for veterans and their families.

PROFS has deep concerns about policy items in the budget and has asked the co-chairs of the finance committee to remove language relating to the qualifications for UW System President and Chancellor candidates and amend the language that creates the Thompson Center on Public Leadership to eliminate the leadership board, allow for the creation of an advisory committee, and ensure, as is the case for all other UW-Madison centers, that the Thompson Center is subject to university governance.

Regent Administrative Hiring Workgroup

UW System Board of Regents President John Behling named members of the workgroup tasked with review of UW System Chancellor and other top administrative positions (see above). The group, which does not include a member from UW-Madison, will examine hiring practices and consider expanding the search process to include non-traditional candidates from outside academia. Behling told fellow Regents last month he would like UW System institutions to recruit non-academic candidates and “streamline” the hiring process for top administrative positions.

UW-Madison Faculty Polices and Procedures (FP&P) requires the Chancellor and Provost to hold a tenured faculty position. PROFS met with Regent Drew Petersen, chair of the workgroup, to share UW-Madison faculty concerns. Peterson told PROFS it is too late to add a UW-Madison faculty member to the workgroup but 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 here.

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.

Fetal Tissue

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 passed the State Assembly August 17 and a State Senate vote is expected soon. Prior to the announcement, Chancellor Rebecca Blank met with leaders of Foxconn to discuss the advantages of locating such a facility near a major research institution like UW-Madison. Her statement on Foxconn is here.

Video from WISCAPE’s 2017-19 Biennial Budget Forum

PROFS recently cosponsored WISCAPE’s 2017-19 Biennial Budget forum. Jack O’Meara, PROFS Legislative Representative, served on the panel alongside Madison College Vice President of Institutional Learning Tim Casper, UW-Madison School of Education Professor Nicholas Hillman, and UW Colleges/Extension Chancellor Cathy Sandeen. Video from the forum is below.


UW Board of Regents President Announces Chancellor Hiring Workgroup

University of Wisconsin Board of Regents President John Behling named members of the workgroup tasked with review of UW System chancellor and other top administrative positions (full press release below). The group will examine hiring practices and consider expanding the search process to include non-traditional candidates from outside academia. The committee does not include a member from UW-Madison.

Workgroup members:

  • Regent Vice President Drew Petersen, chair
  • Regent Gerald Whitburn, vice-chair
  • Regent Tracey Klein
  • Chancellor Bob Meyer, UW-Stout
  • Provost Aaron Brower, UW-Extension
  • Professor Joe Heim, UW-La Crosse
  • Vice Chancellor Rose Smyrski, UW-Platteville
  • Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs James Henderson, UW System
  • Senior Associate Vice President of Human Resources & Workforce Diversity Shenita Brokenburr, UW System

Last month, Regent President John Behling told fellow Regents he would like UW System institutions to recruit non-academic candidates and “streamline” the hiring process for top administrative positions.

In June, PROFS asked the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance to remove a budget provision that would prohibit UW System from creating a rule limiting candidates for chancellor and vice chancellor positions to individuals who are faculty members or hold terminal degrees in their field. No such rule currently exists, but UW-Madison’s Faculty Policies and Procedures does state the chancellor and provost must hold a tenured faculty rank.