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).
The University of Wisconsin System released one-page summaries (below) of how each campus, along with UW Colleges and Extension, is managing its share of the historic $250 million state budget cut.
System leaders had originally planned for each campus chancellor to present a five-minute summary of budget cuts to the Board of Regents last week, but that plan was scrapped because UW System President Ray Cross was concerned about the length and tone of the presentations.
State Representatives Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) and Terese Berceau (D-Madison) announced yesterday they intend to introduce legislation that would return strong shared governance to state statutes.
Shared governance for faculty, staff and students was changed from a participatory role to an advisory one in the most recent state budget. Hesselbein and Berceau have drafted legislation that uses the same statutory language that had been in place since 1973.
The proposed legislation states faculty “shall actively participate in institutional policy development” and gives faculty primary responsibility for personnel issues and academic and educational endeavors on campus.
PROFS President Judith Burstyn voiced support of the bill:
“Make no mistake about it. One of the reasons faculty stay at UW-Madison, despite pay well below out peers, is our strong history of shared governance.”
“This simple step – to upgrade the faculty’s role from advisory to decision-making – will have a far-reaching effect on morale. It will give the University an important recruiting tool that was lost. It will build loyalty and improve the quality of decisions.”
PROFS statement on proposed legislation:
The University of Wisconsin-Madison University Committee approved a proposal outlining faculty layoff policies Monday. The policy, written by an ad hoc faculty committee, replaces Faculty Policies and Procedures (FPP) Chapter 10 and is consistent with American Association of University Professors (AAUP) guidelines. The committee was formed in July after tenure protections were removed from state statutes as part of the 2015-17 state budget.
The proposal will be presented to the Faculty Senate on October 5. A second reading and possible vote could be scheduled as early as the November 2 senate meeting. The proposal must also be approved by the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.
Three campus listening sessions for faculty have been scheduled:
PROFS welcomes faculty back to campus as the new semester begins. For those unfamiliar, PROFS is a non-profit membership organization that represents UW-Madison faculty to the Wisconsin Legislature and Congress.
We are proud of our past achievements. During the most recent budget process, PROFS played a key role in securing $86 million in state-supported bonding for the UW-Madison Chemistry Building Project.
In 2011, PROFS led the successful fight to ensure retirement contributions are taken pre-tax, saving the average faculty member about $1,800 per year. Before that, PROFS successfully lobbied for domestic partner benefits and first-day health coverage for faculty and staff. Recent activities at the state level are listed below.
2015-17 Biennial Budget
PROFS met with more than two dozen legislators and staff throughout the budget process, lobbying for decreased cuts in state funding and the preservation of strong tenure and shared governance for faculty. While the final budget was still much worse than the faculty would have liked, it did include $50 million more for the UW System than the governor had proposed and the attacks on tenure and shared governance, while harsh, were not as punitive as some key legislators wanted them to be.
PROFS took strong stands on these harmful actions. Please see previous posts for statements on budget cuts, tenure, and shared governance. Going forward, PROFS is closely following the work of UW System’s Tenure Policy Task Force and making the case that tenure policy at UW-Madison must meet the standards of the AAUP and peer institutions.
Assembly Bill 305, Limits on Scientific Research
PROFS officially registered and delivered testimony (below) against AB 305, a proposal that would make it illegal to provide or use for experimentation fetal body parts. If passed, the bill would criminalize the use of scientific material previously derived from fetal tissue, which includes cell lines that have been in use for more than 30 years.
PROFS will continue to vigorously oppose the proposal, which has far-reaching negative consequences on campus.
The Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety will meet in executive session to vote on the bill on Wednesday, September 9.
Possible Merger of UW Colleges and the Wisconsin Technical College System
PROFS is deeply concerned about the private discussion among Assembly Republicans on the possible realignment of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and Extension and the Wisconsin Technical College System. PROFS shared its concerns in a letter to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester):
“The faculty at UW-Madison urge you and other legislative leaders to reconsider this strategy and instead create a transparent and inclusive process for any review of public higher education in the state”
“UW-Madison faculty welcome an open and consultative discussion on the future of higher education in Wisconsin. We hope to be “at the table,” along with many other stakeholders across the state, as this discussion continues.”
PROFS is funded entirely by faculty contributions. Please consider joining PROFS if you are not a member.
Horticulture Professor Irwin Goldman offered a forward-looking view on the University of Wisconsin in the July 26 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Goldman is chair of the Horticulture department and has served on the PROFS Steering Committee since 2011. The letter is printed here with his permission.
Groucho Marx once said that politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
As we entered 2015, Gov. Scott Walker and members of the Wisconsin Legislature found trouble with the University of Wisconsin System, attempting to reduce its mission statement to workforce development, separate it from state agency status, remove a large chunk of its budget and eliminate long-standing statutory provisions for shared governance and tenure; all under the guise of “helping” make us be more efficient, like a corporation. There were moments when those overtures made the Wisconsin winter seem even darker and longer than usual.
But, thankfully, universities are stewards of knowledge that transcends the vagaries of the market and the political ambitions of candidates. Our university has been serving people with extraordinary success for 167 years and will still be turning out creative, productive citizens after the ballots from scores of elections are counted, composted and returned to the soil. In fact, the current political climate in our state suggests an imperative for the professoriate: our job is perhaps more urgent than at any time in recent history.
Wisconsin has entrusted us with a critical role in collecting, analyzing and sharing the knowledge upon which its civil society depends. Nelson Mandela said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” and hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens use this life-changing experience every year to carve out their own future and secure the future of our state. Educators and educational institutions are therefore deputized to carry out a sacred duty; one that we embrace no matter who is in office and no matter which ephemeral ideas find political currency.
This fall, our students will return and we will pick up the mantle of teaching and learning once again, finding tremendous meaning and joy in a profession that focuses on helping people acquire knowledge. And politicians will take to the road, looking for trouble and finding it everywhere.
Both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature approved the 2015-17 biennial budget (Senate Bill 21) this week, sending the bill to Governor Scott Walker for his approval. The governor has not indicated if he will use his extensive veto powers to eliminate or change any sections of the proposal, but quick action is expected as Walker has said he would like the budget completed before he formally announces his run for the presidency.
The budget cuts $250 million from the University of Wisconsin System, removes tenure protections and shared governance language from state statutes, outlines new procedures to fire tenured professors, and freezes in-state tuition for two years. Walker originally asked for a $300 million budget cut and full public authority for UW System.
PROFS lobbied vigorously against the tenure and shared governance proposals and massive budget cuts, communicating with members of the Joint Finance Committee and sharing formal statements on the budget and tenure with the entire legislature.
Yesterday, Chancellor Rebecca Blank sent two letters to Governor Walker requesting vetoes relating to tenure and shared governance and indefinite academic staff appointments:
Tenure and Shared Governance
Indefinite Academic Staff Appointments
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will meet at UW-Madison, Thursday July 9. The meeting will be held in room 1820 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive, and is open to the public. Livestream coverage is available here.
The Business and Finance and Capital Planning and Budget Committees will meet briefly before the full board meets at 9 am. The full board will hear an update on the 2015-17 biennial budget, including an update addressing tenure in Regent Policy Documents (no documents offered).
The 2015-16 operating budget including fees and tuition rates and estimated expenditures is here. UW-Madison will see a $20.45 million reduction to the 2015-16 operating base budget (p.13)
In the afternoon, President Ray Cross will offer a brief overview of the UW System strategic planning process, board members will participate in an in-depth discussion on UW System’s role in developing global leaders, and student government leaders from UW Colleges, UW-Platteville, and UW-Stevens Point share thoughts on the roles and responsibilities of student government.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank appeared on UpFront with Mike Gousha, a public affairs show, on Sunday, June 14. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) appeared in a separate segment and addressed questions about proposed tenure changes for University of Wisconsin System faculty.