Tag Archive for Wisconsin Idea

Irwin Goldman: UW Will Continue to Serve

Irwin Goldman

Irwin Goldman

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.


Governor Walker: Freeze Tuition for Two Years, Tie Future Increases to Inflation

Governor Scott Walker said yesterday in a letter to the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance (below) that he continues to support public authority status for the University of Wisconsin System. Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern over the proposal, with Joint Finance Committee Co-chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) saying the plan had little support among Assembly Republicans and is “dead in our caucus.”

Walker also said he intends to limit tuition increases to no more than the annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) after a two-year freeze, saying the move would protect students and parent from unpredictable tuition increases.

UW System President Ray Cross said in statement (below) that tying tuition increases to CPI “is not compatible with the agile, market-driven, and competitive entity the state needs us to be.”

The governor also said he would not change statutory language regarding the university’s mission, thus keeping the Wisconsin Idea intact.

UW-Madison to Host Former Congressmen Obey and Petri April 13

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of Federal Relations will host an event featuring former Congressmen David Obey and Thomas Petri at 3:30 pm Monday, April 13 in Tripp Commons in the Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street.

The forum, one stop in a statewide tour of college campuses, will focus on the importance of civic participation and thoughtful bipartisan discussion of key policy issues. Obey suggested the lecture series after Petri announced he would not run for re-election in 2014:

“I just thought that, given all the negative vibes about what is happening — especially in Madison — that it would be good if we could have a bipartisanship roadshow to simply talk, especially to college students, about the importance of politics and how politics have changed since we got involved with it.”

Together, Obey, the longest-serving Wisconsin member of Congress, and Petri served in Congress for almost 80 years. 

The Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, the David R. Obey Civic Resource Center, the Wisconsin Humanities Council/Working Lives Project, UW-Madison Department of Political Science, the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, and the Elections Research Center are event partners.

On Point with Tom Ashbrook: Testing The ‘Wisconsin Idea’ Of Public Higher Education

on point logo

Today’s first hour of On Point, a National Public Radio radio talk show hosted by Tom Ashbrook, featured a discussion of the Wisconsin Idea, Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts for the University of Wisconsin System, and how they relate to the the governor’s national political ambitions. Audio is below.

University of Wisconsin-Madison history professor John Sharpless and academic staff member Noel Radomski, director of WISCAPE, were joined on the panel by two members of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff — higher education reporter Karen Herzog and columnist/blogger Christian Schneider.

Elimination of the Wisconsin Idea?

AB 21, Governor Scott Walker’s 2015-17 biennial budget proposal, contains language that seems to eliminate the Wisconsin Idea from state statutes (Section IIII below):

Full changes to Chapter 36 are here:

PROFS is deeply concerned about these changes and their potentially devastating side effects and will strongly advocate for restoring UW’s statutory commitment to the Wisconsin Idea.

ETA: A spokesperson for Governor Scott Walker said this afternoon the change in UW System’s statutory mission statement was a drafting error.

JCOER Approves UW-Madison Personnel Plan

The legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations approved new personnel plans for UW-Madison and UW System today. The legislature directed the university to develop plans to be implemented by July 1, 2015 as part of the 2011-13 biennial budget, but never approved them.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank told the committee the new human resources system will allow UW-Madison to attract and retain the best faculty and staff through increased management flexibilities:

This new system will give us flexibility in some places where we need it, greater coherence in how we deal with staff across all positions, and should help us recruit more effectively. Making sure we have the best talent is crucial if UW-Madison is to remain a world-class university, provide an excellent education to our students and help drive the economy of the state.

Merit raises based on performance, currently not allowed under state statutes, will be requested, according to Chancellor Blank.

Thursday, April 4 is UW-Madison Day at the Capitol

Faculty, staff, and students will descend on the State Capitol on Thursday, April 4, hosting interactive displays and exhibits from 10 am until 2 pm. The day is designed to remind legislators and staff of the positive role the university…

State Senate to Hold Informational Hearing on UW System

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Higher Education will hold an informational hearing today on UW System and the Wisconsin Idea. The hearing will begin at 2 pm in the GAR Memorial Hearing Room of the State Capitol. Invited…

“What would public authority mean for the Wisconsin Idea?”

On March 30, 2011, a public forum organized and moderated by Horticulture professor and PROFS member Irwin Goldman was held to discuss the question of what Public Authority status might mean for the Wisconsin Idea. The forum was sponsored by…