Month: January 2015

Petty on Faculty Workload


Grant Petty

PROFS President Grant Petty was asked by WKOW-TV to comment on Governor Scott Walker’s recent remarks about looming budget cuts and the role faculty workload could play as a result. Petty told WKOW that an increase of one course per professor would likely result in a diminished educational experience for students.


WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports


Response to Governor Walker’s Call for Faculty to Teach More

Governor Scott Walker suggested yesterday that University of Wisconsin System faculty could teach more in an effort to offset his proposed $300 million budget cut.

Walker’s comments, which also implied shared governance and faculty participation in decision-making have hindered cost-effectiveness, were made to Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes. Remarks about UW System begin at 12 minutes.


Response from UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW System President Ray Cross was swift. Cross told Wisconsin Public Radio host Joy Cardin that faculty work on average 50-60 hours per week (18 minutes):



Chancellor Blank said that teaching is just part of the work faculty perform for the benefit of the state:

“Teaching is a core mission of the university and taxpayers should expect that faculty are spending time in the classroom. But we know that our faculty are working on behalf of the state in research, outreach and fundraising, among other capacities.”

PROFS President Grant Petty told the Wisconsin State Journal a professor’s job is much more than time spent in the classroom, likening it to the work of clergy:

“As Governor Walker knows from his own family background, a pastor’s job doesn’t start and stop with the Sunday sermon. The same is true of university professors and the classroom.”

Petty also noted that faculty are responsible for more than just undergraduate education, including graduate student teaching and advising, research and publication, continuing education, and outreach:

“I was not able to tell from the governor’s statement which of these things he thought we should do less of to make room for more of something else.”


Walker to Propose $300 Million Cut, Additional Flexibilities for UW System

Governor Scott Walker announced today that he will offer the University of Wisconsin System full management flexibilities through public authority status as part of the 2015-17 biennial budget. At the same time, however, UW System’s budget will be reduced by $300 million over two years. Details of the plan are embedded below.

PROFS is deeply concerned about the magnitude of the proposed budget cut to UW System. PROFS President Grant Petty offered this statement:

While the governor is offering long sought-after management flexibilities, the budget cut coupled with a two-year extension of the current tuition freeze would result in serious harm to the institution.

The governor’s plan, along with a base budget cut implemented 2 years ago, will likely result in an $83 million annual cut to UW-Madison. A cut this large will result in fewer faculty and staff and have a direct impact on students and the quality of their education. Access to courses, advising, and time-to-degree could all be affected.

PROFS will continue to work with Chancellor Blank, President Ray Cross and shared governance leaders as we advocate for appropriate funding levels for the university.

Petty’s remarks echo those of UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who offered her thoughts on her blog, Blank’s Slate.

UW System issued statements from UW System President Ray Cross, Regent President Michael Falbo, and Regent Vice-President Regina Millner.

UW System also provided more details of the plan:

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Governor Walker will introduce his budget on February 3.

Budget Cuts and Public Authority for UW System

Much has appeared in the media recently about possible public authority status for UW System. Little is known about the proposal, and Governor Scott Walker has not confirmed he will include it when he introduces his 2015-17 biennial budget next week.

PROFS president Grant Petty told Capital Times reporter Pat Schneider that additional budget cuts, even when coupled with additional administrative flexibilities, could seriously harm UW-Madison:

“UW-Madison has already had to absorb painful reductions in state support over the past ten years. There is no fat left in the budget . . . any additional funding reductions, no matter how small, would cut into that mission. The future worth of a degree from UW-Madison would be affected, as would the university’s continued ability to attract talented teachers and literally billions of dollars in direct and indirect economic benefits to the state of Wisconsin.”

Additional articles on the UW System and the 2015-17 biennial budget:

Speculation of big Scott Walker budget cut has UW-Milwaukee fearing worst (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/23/15)

UW Could Face $300 Million Revenue Loss, Changes to Tenure, Shared Governance (Media Milwaukee, 1/23/15)

Walker acknowledges considering more autonomy for UW System (Wisconsin State Journal, 1/20/15)

Governor Walker says he is considering more autonomy for the UW System (Wisconsin Public Radio, 1/20/15)

Tom Still: Coming debate over UW funding, structure deserves public attention (Wisconsin State Journal, 1/25/15)

Expect more students from outstate and abroad if expected state funding cuts come to UW (Wisconsin State Journal, 1/25/15)

UW System could see changes after next state budget (Channel 3000, 1/22/15)

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos supports more flexibility for UW System (Wisconsin State Journal, 1/23/15)


Modest Pension Increases Projected for WRS Retirees

The State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) announced yesterday that preliminary returns for the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) should result in modest increases for retirees.

The Core Fund, the state’s largest trust fund at $88.7 billion, slightly surpassed its benchmark with a one-year return of 5.7 percent. The five-year return is projected to be 9.3 percent. The riskier Variable Fund, with holdings of $7.3 billion, lagged just behind its benchmark with a one-year return of 7.3 percent.

Last year both funds posted strong gains, resulting in the first increase for annuitants in five years.

PROFS carefully monitors legislation relating to WRS and lobbies for the best possible pensions for faculty.

In 2011, the legislature requested a study to examine allowing WRS participants to choose a defined contribution plan or opt out of WRS altogether. PROFS hosted a campus forum featuring experts on WRS, including the former legal counsel to SWIB and the former secretary of the Department of Employee Trust Funds. The resulting 2012 legislative report recommended no changes to WRS.

The state’s retirement system is very highly regarded — Morningstar recognized WRS as the strongest state pension in country, and the Pew Center on the States found WRS to be fully-funded and called it a “solid performer.”

Governor Walker to Deliver State of the State January 13, Budget Address February 3

winter capitolGovernor Scott Walker will deliver his State of the State address at 7 pm Tuesday evening in the Assembly Chambers of the Capitol. The speech is usually an outline for the governor’s legislative and budget priorities for the coming year, but Walker might also hint at a possible run for president. Livestream coverage of the address will be available on public radio and television.

Walker will present his 2015-17 budget proposal to the Legislature on Tuesday, February 3. The state is facing a $2.2 billion shortfall if agency requests are fully funded. UW System has requested $95.2 million for the several items:

  • $30 million for a competitive grant program targeting six areas critical to the state’s economy: agriculture, finance, insurance/real estate, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and water research.
  • $27.3 to cover a pay plan funding gap. Historically, UW System funds about 30 percent of a pay plan increase with tuition dollars. The two-year tuition freeze has led to a funding gap, with many campuses holding insufficient reserves to cover the pay plan.
  • $24.4 million to increase the number of college graduates statewide, with much of the funding directed to the Course Options program, a program that allows high school students to earn college credits. Additional funding would expand the Flex Option degree program, improve the credit transfer system, and assist working and first-generation college students.
  • $22.5 million in one-time funding to assist with the creation of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs. The money will be available to individual campuses through a competitive grant process.

PROFS has already met with the state’s budget director to advocate for the budget request and is working with other university stakeholders to secure the best possible outcome for UW-Madison.

2015 Legislature

The Wheeler Report has compiled extensive lists of the 2015 Wisconsin Legislature. Members of the Assembly and Senate with contact information and committee assignments are listed below. Check back soon for the 2015 PROFS Legislative Directory, a list that includes links to legislative leadership and the Dane County delegation.

Assembly p. 1

Assembly p. 2

Assembly p. 3

Assembly p. 4

Assembly p. 5

Assembly p. 6

Senate p. 1

Senate p. 2

Senate p. 3





Governor Scott Walker Inauguration Speech

Governor Scott Walker

Governor Scott Walker

Governor Scott Walker will deliver his inaugural address at 11 am today, Monday, January 5. Livestream coverage is available here.

Brief excerpts of the speech were released earlier today. In them, Walker emphasizes the role of the states over the federal government:

“We’ve been good stewards of the taxpayers’ money and lowered their tax burden as well. We’ve shown why the founders of this great nation looked to the states — and not the federal government — as the source of hope for this exceptional country. We will not let them down. Now, we have a grand vision for the future — a dream of freedom and prosperity for all who live here in the great state of Wisconsin.”

ETA: full remarks here.