AAUP on working with legislators

Inside CapitolThe current issue of ACADEME (The Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors) is dedicated to a topic of real interest to us at UW–Madison: “Governance in a Time of Financial Crisis”. It includes good pieces like “A call for faculty reengagement in governance” and “How to make faculty senates more effective”, but we’d like to call your attention to the article by James Richardson, former president of the AAUP: “Governance beyond the campus”.

Using his home institution, the University of Nevada, as an example, Richardson outlines how faculty have worked with legislators during a worse budget crisis than the one we face. Facing a 40% decrease in state revenues and starting from proposals for a 36% budget reduction for the Nevada system (and a 50% cuts in instructional budgets), they have ended up with a 12.5% cut. Richardson argues forcefully that faculty involvement was crucial, but he describes a situation where faculty worked closely with administrators, regents, students in a “culture of mutual respect.”

It should be noted that the PROFS, working together with other UW stakeholders, has had some similar success in mitigating proposed cuts in recent budget debates. For example, we were able to limit cuts to our costs-to-continue. And we have been able to get other priorities, such as domestic partner benefits, approved. With effective cooperation among all concerned parties we can continue that.

Richardson concludes with something a lot of us have been saying about Wisconsin: “Nevada should come out of this recession with a stronger system of higher education.”

[This post was co-authored by Joe Salmons and Jack O’Meara.]