Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Chancellor John Wiley

The editorial board spoke Friday with Chancellor John Wiley. As chancellor, Wiley is UW-Madison’s top administrator, fundraiser and visionary. Here are excerpts from that discussion.

Badger Herald: Where do you think the cuts will come in UW-Madison’s budget?

John Wiley: The likeliest target is the Madison Initiative. But I’m thinking of this not as a cut in which something is gone forever, but rather delayed. In the next budget my No. 1 priority will be to get back everything that was taken out this biennium. Assuming we’re successful, we will have just delayed by about a year doing those things.
I know in past editorials you have argued that the first target ought to be administrative costs, and that’s almost always everyone’s first target, including mine. But it has been for decades, and we’ve really cut the daylights out of administrative cost. There isn’t a lot there to cut.

BH: What are your thoughts on tuition increases, in-state and out-of-state?

JW: I’m very worried about our out-of-state tuition — it’s getting to the point where it is problematic in attracting out-of-state students. We’re now second highest in the Big Ten and have already programmed a tuition increase of over 10 percent for out-of-state students. Any further increases will be in addition to this, and I will not support that.
In-state tuition is still second lowest in the Big Ten, it’s still a bargain and it may be necessary to increase it more than what is already programmed. But if nothing else changes, it will go up 9.1 percent — that was already set. We have authorization to go up to 10 percent, but we’ve already had pretty substantial — almost double-digit — increases for several years and I’d like to make that a last resort.

BH: In addition to the tuition increases, the segregated-fee budget is going up significantly this year. We have editorialized that you should reject it. What are your thoughts?

JW: We’re in a system of shared governance, and there are pretty clear separations of authority and power. Students have primary authority over allocable seg fees and there’s a process put in place. The process doesn’t say the students will recommend something to the chancellor and the chancellor will second-guess them and change it.
I have not yet received the official briefing and the official final budget recommendations, but I’m assuming I will probably accept the student recommendations unless there are technical difficulties with it.

BH: What criteria are you looking for in hiring a new dean?

JW: Anytime we look for a dean or an administrator at this level, we look primarily for two things — management ability and leadership ability. You look for someone that can forge a sense of direction for the office and set an agenda and follow through on that.

BH: Do you have a preference about whether the dean be from inside the university or from the outside?

JW: No. We’re putting a search committee together that has appropriate representation who will search and screen applicants until they boil it down to three to five finalists and bring me a list. I’ll bring them all back for additional visits and interviews with other deans, student groups, and then we’ll pick the person we think we will be the best fit.

BH: What, if any, priority will there be on a commitment to academic freedom, which some people on campus thought may have been lacking in the previous dean’s office?

JW: I’ll tell you this — I have a personal commitment to it. I have a personal commitment to maintaining a diversity of opinion on campus and civility in the way we express it and disagree publicly. Although that probably was not an explicit discussion in the last search, it will be in this one.

BH: You say your No. 1 issue is campus climate. Will the search for a new dean be affected by that?

JW: Oh, sure it will. Campus climate. When I say that, I’m not using a code word; I really mean the climate in all its aspects. It includes diversity relations — ethnic diversity, gender diversity. It also includes what it feels like to work here as an employee. We’ve got issues of tension between the classified staff, the academic staff and the faculty. Climate has a lot of aspects, and I’m talking about all of those, not just the climate for racial minority students or women in engineering or any one aspect of climate. The dean of students does play a very important role in a lot of those.

BH: How do you think the dean of student’s office has done in the last year?

JW: I think we’ve all done the best we can, and we all have a ways to go. Let’s put it that way.

BH: What is your philosophy when it comes to drinking on campus?

JW: I’ve always treated this as an issue of health and safety. I don’t go into it with the assumption that I can do anything to stop students from drinking. What I’m most concerned about is the 50 students we are taken to detox, many of whom would have died if they weren’t found in time. You know that two students died last year from falls, another was seriously injured — that was just last year.
What I’m concerned about is alleviating the high-risk drinking culture that exists among some students.

BH: How do you propose changing this culture?

JW: I don’t think there is a magic bullet that will reverse the situation. But I do think there a lot of little things, taken together, that will make a difference.
One of those little things I think we should do is eliminate drink specials. I think they’re apart of the problem — they’re not the whole problem. But the very idea someone would think the best way to attract someone into their establishment is to advertise, “Buy a beer, get a shot free” is offensive to me.

BH: Are you worried that banning drink specials will encourage more students to drink at dangerous house parties?

JW: I understand and I agree that drinking in a bar with licensed bartenders and bouncers who are supposed to be keeping an eye on the crowd should in principle be safer than drinking in a house party and probably is. But every study we’ve seen shows a one-to-one correlation between the price of alcohol and the amount of drinking that’s being done.

BH: What do you think of a system where entertainment venues have some sort of wristband option so everyone could go in, and if you are over 21 you could have a beer at the same time?

JW: I think that would be fine. We need more venues where the reason to go there is more than just to drink, there’s something else to do there also. What I’d like to see is lots of opportunities for student entertainment of all kinds at which nobody is just stumbled down drunk, or being hauled off to the hospital, or getting into fights or sexual assaults or all of the other consequences that come from being very drunk.

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