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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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UW administrators stress need to restructure human resources

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During a New Badger Partnership forum Monday, Dean of the Nursing School Katharyn May was a vocal supporter of reworking the human resources system on the Madison campus.[/media-credit]

In a public forum Monday, the University of Wisconsin dean of students and several deans of individual schools said university operation is hampered by a human resources structure that does not fit a world-class institution.

Dean of Students Lori Berquam said the proposed public authority status for the Madison campus would also serve to renew UW’s responsibility to meet the financial needs of all students on campus. She said she believes there will be time to advise amendments to the breakdown of representation on the Board of Trustees, which would be UW’s governing body under the New Badger Partnership.

The proposal, which is working its way through the state Legislature as a part of the biennial budget, has polarized campus and UW System students and officials in recent weeks. Many critics hold the New Badger Partnership goes too far by removing UW from Board of Regents control and the move will essentially privatize the university.

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Berquam said it will prove crucial for the campus community to collaborate on the proposal, particularly the restructuring of a new human resources system, in hopes of leading the way for increased autonomy on other campuses.

“The human resources process will be messy,” Berquam said. “I honestly really believe we can set the stage for other institutions to think about flexibility.”

Dean of the School of Nursing Katharyn May said the hiring of new faculty members is currently only possible through a 27-step process.

May said “layer upon layer” of bureaucracy bog down human resources areas because the operating rules are written in the state statutes. She said after her arrival at UW her first glimpse at the budgeting procedures almost drove her away.

“I told [former Chancellor John] Wiley this is insane,” May said. “To the extent UW is competing with more agile universities, we’re losing out.”

She also said the concern that public authority status would promote a more homogeneous and elite campus is unfounded and said the deans across campus would always prioritize assisting students who have “the brain and the drive” to attend a world-class university.

School of Education Dean Julie Underwood said the rationale for moving away from the current human resources system is to gain the opportunity to tailor a new system to better fit the needs of a research university that competes on the world stage.

She added a university could not feasibly operate in the same manner as any other state entity.

“We need personnel policies devised for a large, complex, international institution,” she said. “We don’t want to lose the things that are most important to us.”

Berquam added in the wake of the passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation to limit collective bargaining rights for public workers, UW could also choose to recognize bargaining for employees under the proposal, though the practice would no longer be in the state statutes.

She also addressed student concerns that only one student position on the planned governing board for the university would not allow for a substantial student voice, saying the board provided a unique opportunity to stay highly involved with the campus especially because of the seats allotted to UW alumni.

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