Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Regents pass hiring checks

[media-credit name=’BRYAN FAUST/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]Regents_BF[/media-credit]For the last time in 2006, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents met Friday in Madison, making some key policy changes and recognizing outgoing staff members.

After some debate, the regents passed a resolution requiring all UW employees to undergo a background check for employment before being hired.

Regent Chuck Pruitt — who chairs the Business, Finance and Audit Committee — said the policy helps to ensure a safe community for all students on campus.


"The absence of a comprehensive policy across the system, I think, was a great concern to those who did the audit," Pruitt said.

Regent Jesus Salas was the only board member to vote against the resolution, saying he was specifically worried about issues of cost, oversight and lack of support.

"I'm very concerned," Salas said. "It's going to be costly one way or the other — but if that's what the people of the state of Wisconsin want, then we'll pay that expenditure, but how we make it has to be determined more effectively."

Salas added he was not pleased the regents were moving forward with the policy change despite dissent from the faculty senates at both UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.

However, UW System President Kevin Reilly said he and other system representatives would be keeping a close eye on the progress of the background checks.

"In the next five months, which we will take to get this right, we will address those concerns jointly with those governance groups," Reilly said. "Let me assure you that if in any case a campus decides to use a private company, we will make sure there is accurate oversight."

According to Al Crist, UW System associate vice president for human relations, the cost of background checks will be between $200,000 and $250,000.

Milwaukee mayor presses for health school

As he did last October, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told the regents Friday that the city of Milwaukee needs a school for public health, and he thanked the board for its support of such a proposal.

Barrett said one of the biggest issues is the racial disparity in infant mortality, calling it a "crisis" for the city of Milwaukee.

"I would like to stand before you and tell you those disparities have been limited, but the reality is they're as serious today as they were a year ago," Barrett told the board.

In addition, Barrett said that while he does not like his city to be a "laboratory" for public health, in reality, it is one.

"I think it is important that we have this commitment here," Barrett said. "I think it's important that it be located where there are the greatest health care disparities."

The regents voted to accept a report that examined the possibility of such a school in Wisconsin's most populous city. Regent Vice President Mark Bradley, though, expressed concern over whether a school for public health in Milwaukee would simply be a duplicate of the one currently housed on the UW-Madison campus.

Regent President David Walsh reminded the full board that the resolution presented to them was just one of accepting a report. Nevertheless, regents were supportive of potential plans for a Milwaukee school.

Board honors Marrett, Lewis

Two regents read resolutions of appreciation Friday for Cora Marrett, outgoing UW senior vice president for academic affairs, and Margaret Lewis, outgoing senior vice president of university relations.

Regent Danae Davis spoke about the impact Marrett has had on her as a regent, using words like "class" and "pistol" to describe Marrett.

"On a personal note, Cora is hugely responsible for my understanding about the importance about the academic side of what we do," Davis said, adding that Marrett helped her understand the regents' role in interacting with UW chancellors and provosts.

Marrett said she is interested in taking on the responsibilities that will come with her new job as assistant director of education and human resources for the National Science Foundation.

"This is what I've been interested in seeking to do since I have been a part of this system," Marrett said. "I'm not going to be backing away from those type of commitments."

Regent Peggy Rosenzweig, who spent time in the state Legislature with Lewis, praised Lewis' contributions and dedication to public service.

Lewis, who did not share definite plans beyond the UW System, also spoke about her commitment to education in Wisconsin.

"When ordinary people believe they have a fair chance, they usually do their best and the whole country benefits from it," Lewis said. "This is what our country provides with access to higher education, and this is why I've committed many years of my life to preserving and enhancing higher education opportunities."

The regents are scheduled to meet again in February.

Religious group seeks clarification

The UW Roman Catholic Foundation responded Sunday to the UW System Board of Regents' decision to reword a policy regarding membership of Registered Student Organizations.

The policy now reads: "Student organizations that select their members or officers on the basis of commitment to a set of beliefs (e.g., religious or political beliefs) may limit membership, officer positions, or participation in the organization to students who affirm that they support the organization's goals …"

UWRCF spokesperson Tim Kruse told The Badger Herald that the two reasons UW Student Organization Office Director Yvonne Fangmeyer cited for denying the religious foundation RSO status were that UWRCF did not make membership available to all UW students and that the group was not directed by students.

In an e-mail to Fangmeyer, Kruse wrote that the policy change addresses the first of the two obligations, but the latter is left unaddressed. Kruse told The Badger Herald that the Student Organization Office has yet to clarify how many students need to be part of the directing board in order for the group qualify as an RSO.

"There is no doubt in our mind that the administration is trying to find a way to keep us from getting funded," Kruse said. "They've never given us one sentence saying what we would have to do to meet that requirement — they just said, 'They don't meet it.'"

— Joanna Pliner contributed to this report.

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