Governor Walker Announces Regent Appointments

Last week, Governor Scott Walker announced three appointments to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. The governor reappointed Regent Gerald Whitburn to a second seven-year term and named Cris Peterson to a seven-year term and Jason Plante to the remainder of former Regent Margaret Farrow’s seven-year term, ending in 2020. Farrow announced her immediate retirement from the board in December.

Whitburn, former CEO of Church Mutual Insurance Company, also served as Secretary of the Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations and as Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services under Governor Tommy Thompson. Whitburn holds degrees from UW-Oshkosh and UW-Madison.

Peterson, a Grantsburg dairy farmer, has received several agricultural awards including 1997 Farm Woman of the Year and 2004 World Dairy Expo Woman of the Year. She served as a student regent while at the University of Minnesota, where she received a degree in education. She replaces outgoing Regent Tim Higgins of Appleton.

Plante, a UW-Eau Claire graduate, is Vice President of Market & Johnson, a general contracting/construction management company in Eau Claire.

Nominees must be approved by the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges and full Senate. A public committee hearing on the appointments will be held at 2 pm this afternoon in Room 300 Southeast in the State Capitol.

PROFS Registers in Favor of Senate Bills 823 and 824

PROFS registered in favor of two recently introduced Senate bills. Senate Bill 823 restores tenure to state statutes and Senate Bill 824 restores university shared governance to state statutes. Both provisions had been in state law but were removed in 2015 as part of Act 55, the 2015-17 biennial budget. State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) and State Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) are lead authors of the legislation (below).

La Follette School Seminar on WRS

PROFS is pleased to cosponsor a seminar on the Wisconsin Retirement System with the La Follette School of Public Affairs.

Gary Gates, former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds will provide a history of WRS and share why it remains one of the strongest pension systems in the country. In 2016, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provided an in-depth look at Gates and the pension system he crafted.

The seminar is at 12:30 pm, Wednesday, February 21 in Union South and is open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Legislative Update

The Legislature is in the final weeks of the 2018 session and PROFS is closely monitoring several bills that could that could seriously affect UW-Madison:

  • “Mark Cook Bills” to Assist Faculty Entrepreneurship, Assembly Bill 758 and Senate Bill 671  Directed by faculty experts, PROFS worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce legislation related to University of Wisconsin research contracts. The faculty group, led by the late Mark Cook (Animal Science), identified the need to change state statutes that regulate how the university contracts with companies in which faculty or other university employees have a financial interest. Both bills have passed through committee and PROFS expects them to be scheduled for a floor vote sometime this month.
  • Bills Limiting Scientific Research, Assembly Bills 83 & 549 and Senate Bills 422 & 423  PROFS is carefully monitoring two bills that would limit the use of fetal tissue in scientific research and is registered against Senate Bill 423. Our statement is on the PROFS website and Facebook page.
  • Bill Limiting University of Wisconsin OB/GYN Training, Assembly Bill 206  PROFS is also registered against AB 206, a bill that would restrict abortion-related activities of UW System and UW Hospitals and Clinics employees. UW School of Medicine and Public Health Dean Robert Golden testified in July the bill would seriously hamper student training in obstetrics and gynecology and could possibly jeopardize the medical school’s accreditation.
  • 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.

Wisconsin Retirement System Seminar

PROFS is cosponsoring a La Follette School of Public Affairs seminar on the history of the Wisconsin Retirement System at 12:30 pm on Wednesday, February 21 in Union South. Wisconsin’s pension system is regarded as one of the best, and Gary Gates, the first secretary of the Department of Employee Trust Funds, will explain how the system was created and why Wisconsin has not experienced shortfalls like many other states.

Spring Primary

The Wisconsin Spring Primary is Tuesday, February 20. The only statewide race on the ballot is for Wisconsin Supreme Court where three candidates are vying for two spots on the April 3 general election ballot. More information on voting in Wisconsin is here.

Federal Relations

PROFS Steering Committee member Judith Burstyn recently met with Congressman Mark Pocan as a member of his Higher Education Advisory Group. Pocan gave the group an update on Congressional action related to higher-education policy and federally funded research.

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