We discussed the Regents meeting, including the delayed release of the 2016-17 operating budget materials. We met with Chancellor Mone and Provost Britz. The Regents have mandated the campus provide post tenure review policies for approval by the end of the Fall semester. The chair provided the committee with the Regent policy, the current documents, and preliminary language for revision. The committee will review these materials this summer and prepare draft documents in preparation for their submission to the faculty and approval by the Senate in the fall. Institutional research data indicate there are about 800 faculty at UWM. About a quarter have been in rank for about 10 years or more, either as associate or full professor
Adrienne Bass joined us to provide updates on several activities including homecoming, a speaker series, and the annual Alumni dinner. She also discussed the Panther Advocate Group, which had a good turnout for the annual visit to Madison last month. The UC continued to discuss how course duplication could be handled more effectively, and how the current and proposed budget model is a disincentive to sharing and consolidating course across units. Statistic courses are a good example, and working this out might create a best practice model that units could follow to remove the budgetary disincentive. The UC also discussed what recommendations are being developed to assure research is supported at UWM during the steep budget cuts that undermine our ability to retain our R1 status.
The committee met with Mark Mone and Tom Luljak. We discussed the media communications for the campus and responses to the inaccurate information about the campus in a press release from the Governor’s office on May 10, 2016. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Politifact evaluation labeled the claims “Pants on Fire” in a column posted online on Friday, May 13, and printed in the Sunday paper. The Governor’s office released a similar statement about UW Green Bay on May 11, 2016.
Later we received news that the Academic Staff Senate met and voted to support a Resolution of No Confidence in UW System President and Board of Regents, 21 yes, 1 no, 5 abstentions.
The UC met from 1:00 to 2:15 and heard reports from members and the provost on the budget and student numbers for next year. We adjourned early for the 2:30 PM faculty meeting.
The big news of the days is that that meeting of the full faculty achieved quorum for the first time since 1994. At this historic meeting, the previously-distributed resolution expressing no confidence in the Board of Regents and UW System President Ray Cross was overwhelmingly passed. With this resolution, the UWM faculty have publicly taken a stand defending public higher education in the state of Wisconsin.
The Faculty Senate convenes for its final meeting of the year at 2:30 PM, Thursday, May 12, where we hope to know more about the impact of the faculty resolution. The R1 celebration follows at 4:30 PM in the Union Concourse (Ground Level) (remarks at 5:15 p.m.).
We met with Profs Nick Fleisher and Richard Leson to discuss introducing a resolution on actions by UW System and Board of Regents at a faculty meeting that will be called for May 10th at 2:30 pm in AUP 170. The link to the agenda and resolution draft is here. The primary issues that have prompted this meeting are faculty concern with the lack of advocacy from the Board and Regents and System administration for providing accessible and affordable quality education to WI citizens, and defending the university budget. Recent actions by the Board have also weakened tenure protections and threaten academic freedom and governance. Such actions threaten the climate of open and free exchange of ideas and undermine the faculty role in academic programming. We see high quality public higher education as a public good and thus call upon the faculty to attend the meeting on May 10, and in particular to defend UWM and its dual missions of access and research. Similar meetings are planned for other campuses in the system. The UW Madison Faculty Senate met on May 2 and passed a similar resolution. Details of the Madison action can be found: https://www.secfac.wisc.edu/documents/2630BoRfinal.pdf
We also reviewed the new Faculty Senate Roster to identify potential nominees for the Rules committee in preparation for the May 12 Senate meeting. The UWM Tenure and Post-Tenure Documents will be formulated in the coming months. John Riesel was also elected as UC chair for 2016.
Provost Britz joined us and we continued to discuss faculty workload policy. There is a UWM policy, Faculty Document 2027 (passed by the Senate in 2007), prescribing metrics for teaching, research, and service workload for faculty. We would like to see an evaluation of how the campus and the deans evaluate compliance with the existing policy before discussion of other models, for example the University of Texas System’s 18 credit per year “teaching workload policy.”
We had a long discussion about the Regents meeting last month where the Regents passed the Madison tenure policy with significant edits which, it is now clear, were not adequately vetted with the Madison Senate or University Committee. As a result, there is now an open discussion by the Madison faculty of a vote of no confidence in President Cross and the Board of Regents at their May 2 Senate meeting. The Madison Senate agenda and documents are here. (Current draft of the resolution is here.) We expect a similar motion will be proposed in many campuses in the system, including at UWM for the May 12 Senate meeting. The Rules Committee, which sets the meeting agenda, meets April 28. Documents and the agenda will be posted here. There is already considerable media coverage of the issue; we expect more.
UC member Aurora reported on discussion on the Research policy advisory R1 subcommittee; a major focus is to increase TA salaries to a competitive level. We encouraged a re-evaluation of this issue and estimated it could be between 3 and 6 million dollars to bring TA salaries up to a competitive level.
We discussed how the Madison tenure policy evolved to the form that was approved at the Regent ‘s meeting on Thursday and Friday, April 7-8. There was some confusion on the exact contents of the document since it was not posted until the day before the Regents meeting (Wednesday, April 6), and therefore, the Madison faculty had not seen it at the time of their April 4 Faculty Senate meeting. There were edits made to the original policy passed last November at the Madison Faculty Senate, but the nature of those edits are not entirely clear. We will be interested to see if the Madison faculty endorses the tenure policy as it was presented at the Regents meeting.
Kyle Swanson joined us to discuss how the Carnegie Classification is calculated. This is the classification that has ranked us as a R1 (doctoral granting, research intensive) university. Briefly, there are seven metrics. Four are the number of doctorates granted in the humanities, social sciences, STEM, and other fields (i.e. business, health sciences, education, and architecture). The other three metrics are research expenditures in STEM, research expenditure in non-STEM, and the number of postdoctoral scholars. In light of this discussion, there were some clear policy actions that could be taken to help preserve R1 status during these times of severe budget cuts. These include:
- Invest in TA and RAs for doctoral students. The campus should determine a target for the number of doctoral students that will keep us in R1 status and make the proper investments in competitive salaries and positions to support this target. There is existing capacity for training doctoral students across campus, but anecdotally, we are losing students to other universities due to low stipends or the inability to guarantee funding for a 4 year period.
- Create preference for awarding TAs to qualified students in PhD programs, even if these students are placed across departmental of even school boundaries.
- Support new assistant professors who are establishing their careers by awarding funding for postdoctoral scholars.
The first point is one recommendation that has been made in many venues in strategic plans, research committee reports, as resolutions by the faculty senate, etc., so it remains unclear why it has not been given higher priority or been implemented, especially since the doctorates granted is a key factor in how we achieved R1 status. We all also highlighted how doctoral students enhance research and enhance undergraduate education.
We also discussed the RGI program and the need to examine the effectiveness and the historical record of who received funding, the return on the investment, and in what form UWM should continue to invest in this program. We were puzzled by lack of data available on this program (repeat awardees, rank of awardees, return on investment) given the amount of investment in RGI.
We met with Robin Van Harpen and Jerry Tarrer to discuss budget issues. They explained how the campus is considering giving up hiring authority for 154 vacant positions to save $3 million in fringe benefit costs. (UWM has hiring authority for 3260 FTE positions using state funds.) We continued with a more general discussion of budget cuts. At the April Regents meeting the campus reported about $15.9 million in cuts for 2015-16, and anticipates a similar cut for 2016-17. We also urged the budget officials to estimate the costs to academic programs of these cuts, particularly to general education.
We discussed two draft versions of changes to UWM P&P with reference to layoff and termination of faculty in light of Act 55 and will bring them to the Senate on Thursday.
Today we meet with Trudy Turner, Secretary of the University to discuss the policy on promotion to full professor. The procedure is outlined in P&P 5.20. We spent time with Provost Britz discussing faculty workload, annual reviews, the need to work cooperatively across schools and colleges to offer courses needed for the curriculum, i.e. history of medicine offered by history to nursing students, etc. We also discussed the abysmal budget outlook and how the University will be weakened by the cuts. Lastly, we talked about post tenure review and how this might be used for fostering development and promotion of faculty after tenure.
We began the meeting discussing the Cryptosporidium outbreak in April of 1993 and the improvements to the Milwaukee drinking water plant. Then a long discussion ensued about pursuing large grant opportunities (NSF traineeships, partnerships with industry) and how UWM needs to be more aggressive and coordinate these initiatives. Pat Borger joined us to discuss this years comprehensive campaign and how faculty and staff could be involved. We noted that faculty and staff are most likely to give to student scholarships and requested that UWM Development share that numbers of faculty and staff that give to UWM and where those gifts are directed. We also discussed preserving research on this campus and developing recommendations on that topic.