The state’s finance committee trimmed cuts to University of Wisconsin System to $250 million, while also making changes that professors have said would drastically alter faculty tenure and shared governance in a motion passed Friday.
Gov. Scott Walker’s original budget cut $300 million from the UW System and transformed the system from a state agency to a more autonomous “public authority” body — language that was deleted by the finance committee in a 12-4 vote.
Friday’s motion effectively eliminates tenure from state statute, and modifies shared governance. UW System Board of Regents President Ray Cross said in March he would resign if cuts were not reduced and shared governance and tenure were not kept in state law.
UW System president says he’d resign if cuts don’t go down, shared governance is removedA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor asked UW System President Ray Cross Wednesday whether he’d resign if the proposed $300 million Read…
Cross said in a statement he remained committed to recognizing tenured faculty, even if tenure is no longer part of state statute.
“As tenure was not retained in statute, we will move to incorporate it into Board policies immediately,” Cross said. “The Board meets next week. A UW System tenure task force, previously charged with reviewing the tenure issue, will continue its work.”
The committee proposal changes the function of shared governance in a way that weakens the influence of students, faculty and academic staff and places them into advisory roles. This gives university administrators and governor-appointed UW System regents more decision-making power.
GOP motion in finance committee would restore $50 million to cuts, eliminate public authority languageThe Joint Finance Committee moved to restore $50 million Friday to the proposed $300 million cuts to the University of Read…
Republican lawmakers said changes to shared governance, along with the deletion of tenure language, would provide flexibilities for UW System officials.
Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, said the modifications would benefit the system.
“We are continuing to allow faculty and students to be a part of advising the leadership on campus, but we’re really providing campus leaders the ability that they need to be the leaders on our campuses, and empowering them to make decision that they need to make working in collaboration with faculty and students,” Harsdorf said.
The GOP motion also keeps in tact Walker’s suggestion to freeze in-state tuition until 2017.
Not all Republican lawmakers are pleased with the committee’s language regarding the tuition freeze. Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said in a statement not capping tuition past 2017 at the Consumer Price Index, or market rate, will result in a significant spike.
“The committee failed to protect middle class families with a tuition cap at CPI starting in 2017 to prevent a major price shock,” Nass said. “Today, the committee sent a greenlight to UW administrators that the sky-is-the-limit on tuition in fall 2017.”
Instead of implementing a full public authority model, the finance committee proposed the addition of some flexibilities regarding procurement and building projects.
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement these additions are “welcome and should allow us to function more efficiently.”
The budget bill will now move on through the general Legislature and then, finally, to Walker’s desk for signature in June.