Gov. Scott Walker’s signature on Wisconsin’s 2015-17 state budget made law the sweeping changes to tenure, along with shared governance, that has drawn national attention in past months.
The budget removes tenure and shared governance language at University of Wisconsin System schools from state statute and broadens the grounds on which tenured faculty can be fired.
This change drew criticism from UW professors, like Sara Goldrick-Rab, an educational policy professor at UW, who say it jeopardizes their academic freedom and lowers faculty morale.
“I’m completely demoralized,” Goldrick-Rab said. “I don’t want to participate in the life of the institution anymore.”
Goldrick-Rab said she plans on finding a professor job at a new university by fall 2016 because of the tenure changes. She said the policy will discourage professors from voicing opinions and doing research that challenges the views of the state’s most powerful politicians and institutions.
Motion passed to reduce UW System cuts, modify shared governance, tenureThe state’s finance committee trimmed cuts to University of Wisconsin System to $250 million, while also making changes that professors have said would Read…
While the budget also removes shared governance language from state statute, Walker vetoed a provision that would have taken away students’ power to allocate the segregated fees all students pay along with tuition.
Carmen Gosey, Associated Students of Madison’s Legislative Affairs chair, said if faculty leave because of tenure changes, it could lead to higher demand for classes and potentially delay graduation rates. She said she thinks the changes will jeopardize academic freedom.
“We stand by the faculty having academic freedom and being able to choose what they get to research,” Gosey said.
Walker officially entered the 2016 GOP presidential race Monday. He enters a crowded Republican field where he looks to establish his dedication to conservative values.
Controversial tenure provisions become reality as Gov. Walker signs budgetGov. Scott Walker’s signature on Wisconsin’s 2015-17 state budget made law the sweeping changes to tenure, along with shared governance, Read…
Walker directly tackled tenure at his official presidential announcement rally in Waukesha Monday, where he touted his reforms in Wisconsin to a cheering crowd.
“Today, people elected by local taxpayers actually get to run the schools,” Walker said. “Our reforms ended seniority and tenure. Now we can hire and fire based on merit and pay based on performance. We can put the best and the brightest in the classroom.”
David Vanness, a population health sciences professor who has been vocal about his opposition to the tenure changes, said he sees the changes to tenure as a step in a long-term shift against public universities.
But, he said he believes the changes would not have come about as they did if Walker wasn’t eyeing a presidential bid as he wrote the budget.
“I think that none of this would have happened in the dramatic way that it did this year were it not for Governor Walker running for president,” Vanness said. “I think that was a catalyst for this change.”
Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, part of the Joint Finance Committee that slid the tenure modifications into the budget, said during a JFC session that the changes to tenure and shared governance were made to benefit the UW 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 decisions that they need to make working in collaboration with faculty and students,” Harsdorf said.
The tenure proposal, now law, sparked uproar among some faculty, many of whom said the administration wasn’t doing its part to go on the offensive to protect tenured professors.
Vanness said he thinks the administration has been inadequate in their response. They failed to understand the seriousness of the changes early on, he said, and did not adequately mobilize students and alumni to standup to lawmakers.
“I think they really dropped the ball,” Vanness said.
UW faculty continue to voice concerns at tenure meetingUniversity of Wisconsin faculty continued to speak out against potential tenure changes in the state budget and Chancellor Rebecca Blank spoke Read…
At a crowded Faculty Senate meeting before the budget was passed, Chancellor Rebecca Blank said she would work with alumni and others connected to UW to try to mitigate the budgets’ effects. In a statement, she said UW would remain in conversation with lawmakers.
“We will pursue a dialog with legislators about how state and university leaders can work together to strengthen higher education in Wisconsin,” Blank said.
UW System president Ray Cross, a Walker appointee, said in March he would resign if he was unable to negotiate significant changes on the budget proposal.
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…
“We appreciate the many legislators and stakeholders statewide who advocated for UW System as a priority, followed through on commitments to minimize our budget reduction and provided us some new cost-cutting flexibilities,” Cross said in a statement.