Where Does PROFS Stand on Public Authority?

BascHill_Wban_capit06_7792The proposal developed by the governor and chancellor to make UW-Madison a public authority would trigger the most fundamental changes to this great University since the creation of System almost 40 years ago and, some argue, the most fundamental change in our history.

Especially since the Chancellor’s latest emails urging the university community to lobby on behalf of public authority, we have been receiving queries like the title of this post, along with impassioned messages urging us to actively oppose or support this proposal and the governor’s budget bill which contains it.

All of us on the PROFS Steering Committee have worked and continue to work very hard to inform ourselves about this issue:

  • We (along with University Committee and CAPE members) met with the chancellor on the topic of flexibilities before the name ‘New Badger Partnership’ was known.
  • We met with Vince Sweeney to discuss the plan after the name was announced but before almost anything was known about it.
  • We’ve brought in a range of experts from campus and beyond to speak and answer questions about the plan in public forums.
  • We’ve met recently with representatives of the Badger Advocates, the large group of lobbyists specifically created to lobby on behalf of public authority.
  • We’ve read and continue to discuss the bill. We compiled resources to help you understand the details.
  • The University Committee and PROFS advocated loudly for a voice in discussions about public authority, which along with efforts from other groups, led to the creation of the Public Authority Working Group. We actively participate in this group.
  • We’ve met recently with a labor law expert to talk about the implications of public authority status for collective bargaining.
  • PROFS staff and I regularly attend the University Committee when public authority is the topic.
  • PROFS has met, and will continue to meet, with legislators and members of the governor’s staff to discuss the proposed budget and to lobby on behalf of the UW-Madison faculty.

We are deeply involved in trying to understand what public authority would mean for UW-Madison in the short and long term. Shared governance gives us this responsibility to deal with this as faculty members and we have been pursuing that obligation vigorously.

At present, we have not taken a position on public authority. Members of our Steering Committee hold widely divergent views about this issue. We will meet soon specifically to discuss the topic and explore whether there is agreement within the group, e.g. on principles for flexibility that we all support. It is abundantly clear that a number of other governance groups find themselves in the same situation.

Key members of the Legislature have asked for Madison and System to work out their differences. We are meeting with members of the Joint Finance Committee and other members of the Legislature to represent the interests of the faculty, and to argue for the principles about public authority that were adopted by the Faculty Senate.

We understand our most important role to be in providing the best and most reliable information we can from as many perspectives as we can: Just as we struggle to reach informed opinions about this critical matter, we are obliged to give you the means to do the same for yourself.

Please stay as informed and involved as you can.

Joe Salmons

President, PROFS Steering Committee