Although University of Wisconsin faculty members expressed support for increased flexibility in human resources as a result of the New Badger Partnership during Monday’s Faculty Senate meeting, members raised concerns about the availability of financial aid to help students cope with impending tuition increases.
Chancellor Biddy Martin said the New Badger Partnership would provide the flexibility to design a new personnel system to suit the university’s needs and will continue to sustain mutually beneficial relations with all schools in the UW System.
Martin also said she would launch a campaign against the “sticker shock” of a UW tuition, saying few students end up paying the full “sticker price” for education.
Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, said the public authority status would remove “impenetrable” layers of bureaucracy from the state and a career ladder that does not provide adequate incentive for professors.
“The campus will have the ability to make rules that work for us instead of rules that work for a typical state agency,” Gamoran said. “The current system encourages people to seek outside offers.”
In response to questions about the fate of other system campuses in the event of the Madison campus’s separation, Martin said the other institutions would remain strong and there are no incentives for UW to ignore its existing relationship with the other schools.
She also said because UW is able to handle more transfer students, the campus will continue enhancing transfer agreements with other institutions.
UW political science professor Donald Downs said he acknowledges the university is in a new world and must come to terms with these new realities in creative ways.
Downs, an advisor for The Badger Herald Board of Directors, raised concerns about current academic freedom and said shared governance agreements as articulated by state statutes could be trumped by future legal decisions made by the Board of Trustees.
Judith Burstyn, chair of the University Committee, said university rules are currently approved through the Board of Regents and members are not able to overstep state statutes.
In addressing the model’s potential benefits for undergraduates, Martin said the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates served as inspiration for the New Badger Partnership because university resources were used to directly serve need-based aid and other student resources, including the hiring of 79 new faculty members.
Faculty Senate members also voiced concerns about the transparency of the process up to the governor’s state budget announcement.
Martin said officials would work to improve transparency and all changes moving forward will be kept public to allow for campus-wide deliberation.
She reaffirmed the university’s commitment to access and affordability for all students but also said the state could not risk a decline in quality of education at the Madison campus, despite the risks of pursuing the public authority model.
“We can’t afford to have UW, the state’s treasure, decline in quality,” she said. “I would take this risk every day over the status quo.”