Barham Testifies at Legislative Task Force Hearing

University Committee chair Brad Barham testified this morning at the Special Task Force on UW Restructuring and Operational Flexibilities. Barham was one of four UW System faculty members to address the committee. The meeting was recorded by WisconsinEye, and video is available here. Barham begins his remarks at 1:21:30 of the first recording. He offered four observations:

  • Shared governance is essential to the University of Wisconsin.
  • The Wisconsin Idea is in jeopardy due to declining state support.
  • The higher education social compact between the citizens of Wisconsin and public and private institutions is eroding.
  • Flexibilities can help reduce the burden on the state and/or students and their families, but they are not a replacement for improved state support.

Barham said that “thousands of UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students are involved in efforts to do right by the citizens of Wisconsin and innovate in this historic moment. I encourage you to recognize and honor that effort like you would a firefighter or others who serve our communities. Most of us are doing it on top of our regular duties and not getting one penny more for our efforts except the hope that somehow it will help to improve the prospects for delivering on the Wisconsin Idea and enhance the vitality of the institution we bleed for.”

After hearing testimony from students, faculty, and staff, the task force discussed institutional advisory and governing boards. UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Rick Wells, a task force member, provided recommendations from UW System chancellors. The chancellors met in late March and offered strong support for:

  • A structure that allows individual chancellors to create or strengthen institution-level advisory boards, with the Board of Regents retaining governing authority for the UW-System;
  • An option for these institutional-level advisory boards to include one or two Regent members, most likely to be identified by Board leadership; and
  • The implementation of a system-wide advisory council to enhance communication and relationships among members of the Board of Regents and UW System constituencies.

The task force recommended the first two items.