In response to the governor’s proposal to break the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus from the rest of the System campuses, the Board of Regents unveiled a plan to seek similar flexibilities for all UW institutions at a meeting Thursday.
Regents and UW System representatives said the proposed Wisconsin Idea Partnership would lend increased flexibility in areas of tuition setting and human resources to allow all 26 UW System campuses to cope with $125 million in state budget cuts, instead of solely the Madison campus.
The plan comes after Gov. Scott Walker’s announcement that the flagship UW campus would attain public authority status on July 1, 2011, effectively removing the campus from the UW System.
According to the Regents, the new Partnership would build on Walker’s earlier proposal by lending authority in budget setting, human resources, purchasing and other functions.
Regent Aaron Wingad, a student on the Eau Claire campus, said Martin’s New Badger Partnership will prove harmful to the rest UW System and questioned the transparency of UW’s talks with Walker.
“It’s a bad idea for my campus, it’s a bad idea for the Wisconsin Idea, it’s a bad idea because it was formulated behind closed doors,” he said.
The Board voted to accept the new plan in an attempt to retain the Madison campus as a part of the wider UW System. Only one Regent opposed the measure, saying the proposal should be more extensive.
Although Walker’s budget proposal only outlines plans to increase flexibility for the Madison campus, UW System Regents said they can still include all campuses in the bill before the Joint Finance Committee begins debate on the plan.
“The new proposal would preserve the core features and benefits for the flagship campus, while extending the new flexibilities to all UW campuses as part of a unified system,” a UW System statement said.
In an interview with The Badger Herald, Chancellor Biddy Martin said while the System submitted a proposal for flexibilities to the state in early February, the timeliness of the plan proved a major obstacle.
She said it appeared the System’s initial proposal to Walker before the budget announcement “seemed to be a bit too late in coming.”
UW System President Kevin Reilly said the new Partnership provides a path for all UW campuses that is reasonable and promotes equality.
He also said he was confident the proposal would be well-received by Walker and the state Legislature because the governor has previously expressed interest in extending flexibilities to all campuses.