In advocating for the UW-Madison faculty, PROFS vigorously defends academic freedom. State Representative Dave Murphy’s criticism of political science professor Ken Mayer’s course is an attack on academic freedom. It could have a chilling effect on future faculty members’ willingness to speak freely and openly about controversial topics of the day, a very unfortunate outcome. PROFS applauds groups like the College Republicans for standing up for Professor Mayer. These students recognize that Professor Mayer is a fair professor who is nonetheless willing to speak critically and honestly. That is a key element of the Wisconsin Idea.
Last week, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents reaffirmed their commitment to freedom of expression with the resolution below. The board adopted a lengthier resolution in December 2015, also below.
Assembly Bill 299, dubbed the Campus Free Speech Act, passed the Assembly Wednesday, June 21 on a 61-36 vote. Republican Bob Gannon of West Bend joined the Democrats in opposing the bill. A statement of PROFS’ opposition to the bill is here.
Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum), the bill’s main author, maintains the legislation is necessary to ensure all voices are heard on campus, citing incidents at Middlebury College and the University of California-Berkeley as evidence that free speech is stifled on college campuses.
PROFS lobbied against the bill, noting that in 2010 the University of Wisconsin Faculty Senate adopted a policy (Faculty Document 2186) that protects speech on campus. In 2015, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents adopted a resolution affirming academic freedom, including free speech, on all UW campuses.
Under the amended bill (below), the Board of Regents would be required to adopt a policy that would apply to all UW System institutions and supersede any existing Regent or campus policies. The legislation also requires mandatory punishments for students violators and employee and new student training on free speech annually.
The bill now moves to the State Senate.
PROFS is registered against Assembly Bill 299, legislation that would require the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents to adopt a policy on free expression on all two and four-year campuses. This new policy would supersede any previous Regent rules or individual campus policies.
The Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee is scheduled to vote on an amended version of AB 299 at 1:30 pm, Tuesday, May 30.
In 2010, the UW-Madison Faculty Senate amended its Faculty Policies and Procedures to provide “principled protection for faculty engaged in speech pursuant to their official duties.” The amendment (below) also provided a definition of academic freedom.
PROFS is pleased to cosponsor a public discussion with Alice Dreger, a former clinical professor at Northwestern University.
Dreger, author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, will talk about academic freedom and how it relates to research. She will also share ways in which researchers can work individually and together to protect themselves.
She will speak at noon, Friday, March 4 in the Wisconsin Idea Room in the Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall.
This is event is hosted by the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) and cosponsored by the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, the Department of History of Science, and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.
The Education Committee will consider approval of several new degree programs and a reorganization at UW-Green Bay. The committee will also discuss a statement reiterating the board’s commitment to academic freedom and affirming the board’s commitment to freedom of expression:
The Business and Finance Committee will consider differential tuition at UW-Stevens Point and an alumni tuition proposal at UW-Eau Claire, discuss trust funds and contractual agreements, and hear a report on faculty and staff salary adjustments in 2015. UW System chancellors reallocated $12.1 million of the salary base for adjustments in 2015. 2,338 faculty received adjustments averaging $5,163. At UW-Madison, 102 faculty members received additional compensation averaging $3,377.
The Capital Planning and Budget Committee will consider authorization of a transfer of Vilas Trust funds for the UW-Madison Music Performance Building project, review changes to regent policy documents, and hear a report on State Building Commission action.
The Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee will hear an update from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan. UW System President President Ray Cross will also share how UW System is helping with the state’s workforce needs.
The Audit Committee will hear a report from the chief audit executive.
On Friday the board will hear several reports:
- Hospital Authority Board
- Higher Educational Aids Board
- Wisconsin Technical College System Board
- Informational report on student debt and financial aid
- UW-Green Bay NCAA Division I Athletics report
Updates on the work done by Tenure Policy Task Force and the Tuition-setting Policy Task Force will also be given.
The University Committee, UW-Madison’s faculty governance executive committee, and the Academic Staff Executive Committee released a joint statement on academic freedom and legislative action affecting the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism today: Higher education is at its best when faculty…
The Faculty Senate met on Monday, April 4 and overwhelmingly supported a resolution in support of academic freedom. The resolution specifically calls on Chancellor Biddy Martin to defend the academic freedom rights of the faculty and to take a leadership…