As part of the university’s reaccreditation process, students urged the University of Wisconsin Monday to broaden student and professor diversity on campus and raise the standards for tenured professors.
Members of the Higher Learning Commission’s reaccreditation team met with students, faculty and staff in forums to discuss the results of UW’s self-study, titled “For Wisconsin and the World: A Great Public University.”
Administrators have been preparing for the past two years to evaluate UW’s academic performance, and the self-study is the first step in the reaccreditation process that takes place every 10 years. The HLC will use the results of Monday’s forums to make recommendations to UW about ways it can improve its academic performance.
Students who attended the forum said a lack of student and professor diversity on campus must be addressed.
“I still think that in terms of the racial diversity, there’s still not enough done. When you have less than 2 percent (of) African Americans here, that’s a problem,” Antonio Daniels, a graduate student in educational leadership and policy analysis, said.
According to UW admission policies, 75 percent of students admitted to UW must come from Wisconsin or Minnesota and the other 25 percent must come from other states, Daniels said. The self-study shows in 2007, about 5,000 of UW’s 42,000 students were minorities.
Daniels said he thinks active recruitment of top minority students at historically black schools would help increase the number of minority students on campus and broaden campus diversity.
Other students agreed with Daniels but said they think UW’s small proportion of minority students is a difficult problem to overcome. They added recruiting minority students to fill the 25 percent out-of-state requirement still may not expand campus diversity.
“I agree that it’s not a very diverse university, but I think it’s just really hard to do with what Madison has — they do have to have the in-state people,” said UW sophomore Lindsay Kueck, who attended the forum. “I feel like Madison is trying to be a diverse school; it’s just a very difficult task.”
The other issue addressed by students at the forum was that tenured professors should be held to higher standards to provide students with updated courses that cover new material.
Darrell Ramsey-Wolf, a graduate student in urban and regional planning, said he is concerned the tenure process places too much emphasis on rewarding professors for their own academic work rather than their work with students.
“My biggest issue with the university is having too many teachers [re-teaching] their old information,” Ramsey-Musolf said. “Rather than updating the syllabus or finding something new, I find that once they get that tenure — for some professors — we get the same course every other year and that there isn’t a renewed vigor into intellectual challenge.”
The HLC reaccreditation team has met with the Associated Students of Madison, UW administrators, faculty, staff and students since Sunday and they will remain in Madison until Wednesday to conduct an exit interview.
Afterward, the team will compile the feedback into a report that will be given to UW, and the final reaccreditation decision will be made in about six or seven months, according to Gregory Gagnon, consultant evaluator for the HLC.