In the wake of the University of Wisconsin chancellor detailing the separation of the Madison campus from the UW System, Board of Regents members have voiced concerns about how the split could negatively affect the other campuses.
Under Chancellor Biddy Martin’s proposal, the flagstaff campus would continue to receive state funding and remain a public institution but would no longer operate as a part of the UW System.
According to the documents released Wednesday, UW would retain all revenue received instead of pooling funds received in the State Treasury. This would allow UW greater control in setting tuition, addressing personnel matters and directing new construction projects on campus while remaining a state entity.
A 21-member Board of Trustees composed of 11 appointees by the governor and 10 faculty appointed members would govern the university, a condition that some officials have said will likely draw contentious debate at the special Board of Regents meeting Friday.
UW System spokesperson David Giroux said the meeting would be informational and would mark the first public discussion among members of the governing on the potential separation.
He said no specific actions or votes would be taken, but rather Board of Regents represented would learn more about the logistics of the Partnership.
Giroux also said the most basic concerns he hopes to address will include what the split would do to the rest of the UW System campuses and whether it is a good thing for Wisconsin to have multiple governing bodies for the public universities.
Increased competition between UW and the rest of the system is also a cause for concern, he said, but possible effects of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget announcement on the whole system present a pressing financial reality.
“Providing UW with flexibility and managerial freedom makes perfect sense,” Giroux said. “But the question arises, why doesn’t it make sense for all other schools in the system”?
Associated Students of Madison Legal Advisor Tyler Junger said the planned separation would provide the system with a fresh approach on university structure and would not prove harmful to other system schools.
Junger said though time will tell, a split would promote duplication among schools. Competition for funding between the various universities already exists at a system level as campuses compete for state appropriations to meet needs.
The decision to remove UW from the system is a decision made by Walker, he said, and UW must act to maintain its reputation as a world-class university in the event of a split.
He added the seven alumni representatives on the Board of Trustees will have the best interest of the campus at heart and there are already Board of Regents members appointed by the state.
Junger also said tuition will likely increase regardless of a separation from the UW System, and there is no valid connection between the split and tuition hikes.
“We’re facing a state budget crisis, and we need to step up to maintain the quality of UW,” he said. “Students will be asked to play a part in that.”