Mar 24, 2015

We began with some hard questions about System Administration including, “Do people have faith in Ray Cross’s leadership?” and “What has motivated his approach and behavior regarding Chapter 36 and Public Authority?” From the perspective of protecting and supporting the university system, he seems to have grossly miscalculated in his efforts to move Chapter 36 into Public Authority. Now that this is unravelling, he seems to be painted into a corner. We had a deep discussion of these questions, in the context of President Cross’s visit to UWM tomorrow for a public Budget Committee meeting. The System seems to be in complete disarray which leaves us vulnerable to more savage cuts and other major losses for the university system.

We discussed, with the Provost, the future of tenure and that of shared governance, which seems more vulnerable than tenure. There are deep questions as to how governance would work, at the very basic level of P&P, if shared governance is aggressively altered.

We heard reports from various committees, and noted that the search for a Vice Provost For Research position has been put on hold. This led to a deeper discussion about the position itself, and the climate for research at UWM. The Dean Search Committee for The College of Health Sciences is ongoing with some strong candidates. The report from the APBC brought up the issue of furloughs, which we all hope to avoid and various other speculations about where to find money for the as yet unspecified series of cuts. This will, of course, be an ongoing issue.

Two Proposed Senate Resolutions

These are proposed resolutions, to be taken up in this week’s Faculty Senate scheduled for Thursday, March 12, 2015.

Communication from an Official Governance Unit
UW-Milwaukee Faculty Senate Resolution
Downer Woods and Downer College Buildings
March 12, 2015

Whereas Downer Woods and the Downer College buildings are treasured by both UW-Milwaukee and surrounding communities as unique cultural and historical legacies; and

Whereas Downer Woods provides invaluable opportunities for recreation and scientific study, as well as adding to the natural beauty of the UW-Milwaukee campus;

Therefore, the UW-Milwaukee Faculty Senate unequivocally opposes the repeal of sections from Chapter 36 State Statutes which protect Downer Woods and the Downer College buildings as precious assets, as well as any other attempts to endanger them or change their status.

We further call upon UW-Milwaukee Administration, UW-System Administration, the UW-System Board of Regents, the City of Milwaukee, and the Village of Shorewood, to join with us in urging the State Legislature to reject this proposed change in State Statutes, and affirm support for maintaining the current protected status of Downer Woods and the Downer College buildings.

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Communication from an Official Governance Unit
UW-Milwaukee Faculty Senate Resolution
Public Education and Public Authority
March 12, 2015

Whereas the Board of Regents has declared that budget cuts in base funding limit the ability of the UW-System to effectively manage our institutions; and

Whereas we understand that the proposed budget cuts will irrevocably damage the teaching, research, and service mission of UW-Milwaukee; and

Whereas our core values require that the Wisconsin Idea must remain fully intact, including shared governance, tenure, and investment in public education, as these facets have allowed the UW-System to become one of the best in the world and immeasurably enhance the lives of the people of Wisconsin;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the UW-Milwaukee Faculty Senate urges the Wisconsin State Legislature to maintain Chapter 36 intact, to reject the conversion to public authority and the proposed budget cuts, and only pursue any desired flexibilities for the UW-System via amendments to State Statutes, after an open, deliberate, and inclusive process that honors shared governance and public input.

Further, in order to gain the confidence of the UW-Milwaukee faculty, we call on the Board of Regents, UW-System President Cross, and our own UW-Milwaukee Administration to join us in publicly supporting this resolution.

Mar 10, 2015

Richard Grusin attended the first part of our meeting and advocated for a resolution from the faculty senate that is more emphatic about our concerns regarding the Public Authority proposal. We discussed the tactics involved in our interactions with President Cross and the Regents. After Professor Grusin left, we discussed how to put forward resolutions to the Senate, and discussed how we draw a “line in the sand” about public education in general. We then met with the Provost and continued to discuss how to manage the crisis besetting our university. We also worked on crafting the aforementioned Senate resolution. We later discussed the newly configured Ombuds Council with professors Nadya Fouad and Erik Timmerman. This also involved a review of the Code of Conduct policies that are at times difficult to enforce. After discussing protocols for the upcoming Senate meeting, we adjourned.

Mar 3, 2015

We discussed our ongoing efforts to reaffirm Chapter 36. We highlighted the destabilizing results of both our fiscal situation and our future governance structure, so we keep asking the Board of Regents to adopt all current Chapter 36 contents as they stand. While there seems to be some support for that idea, there is also resistance. We pointed out the fact that the elimination of the public authority does not necessarily secure Chapter 36, and continued to discuss the ever-shifting sands of the radical changes proposed for higher education in Wisconsin.

A Letter To System President Cross

The following letter is being circulated among UW System faculty, staff, students and alumni. It was generated by a UWM faculty member, and we post it here for your information. If you are interested in signing it, please visit this link.
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(February 25, 2015)

Dear President Cross,

We write to insist in the strongest possible terms that you come out immediately and publicly against the Governor’s budget plan to transform the University of Wisconsin System to a public authority at this time. We also ask that you oppose the $300 million in cuts that the System is being asked to absorb in exchange for public authority.

Your editorial in yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel claims “the tools to build a more stable and sustainable UW System of the future are within the state budget proposal.” But there is no evidence as to how these tools function or what impacts they will achieve. Moreover, there is an almost complete lack of detail in the current proposal; an absence of any public or system-wide examination of the structure and composition of the governing board of a new public authority; a failure to undertake any serious economic study of the costs of the transition to a public authority, its sustainability, or the size of the benefits a public authority might yield; and the total removal of any statutory protection for tenure, shared governance, indefinite employment status, or any of the academic and fiscal provisions spelled out in Chapter 36. Given this, we demand that you call for an immediate moratorium on any move to a public authority until the next biennium, pending a thorough study and widespread public input into the transition and structure of such an authority.

Since the budget cuts are a quid pro quo for public authority, we urge that in your upcoming testimony to the Joint Finance Committee you request tabling the $300 million of proposed cuts to the next biennium. A moratorium would provide time for the University System and the citizens of Wisconsin to learn what the scope of the efficiencies of a public authority might actually be. Further, such a moratorium would allow the System, the Legislature, and the citizens of Wisconsin to do their due diligence on this seismic shift in the governance and financing of the University of Wisconsin System.

We believe that your efforts to adopt these positions would represent a positive step on the behalf of System administration to perform the kind of due diligence that any large organization or firm would do before making such a radical change in its funding and institutional structure. Your leadership would help reverse the growing loss of confidence in system administration among faculty, staff, and students in system schools, as well as protecting the national and international reputation of the University of Wisconsin System from potentially irreparable damage.

Statement by the UC re: Budget & Chap 36

(to be submitted for endorsement by the UW-Milwaukee Faculty Senate on March 12, 2015)

The University of Wisconsin-System and its constituent campuses are the envy of the nation in terms of academic quality and reputation because of our robust protection of academic freedom and our shared governance practices.
Therefore, we unequivocally oppose the repeal of sections from Chapter 36 State Statutes, especially those protecting faculty/staff appointments and benefits, as well as those providing authority for faculty, staff, and student shared governance.
Further, we call upon the Board of Regents and UW-System Administration to unequivocally express their support for protecting faculty/staff appointments and benefits, as well as for faculty, staff, and student shared governance authority, by quickly affirming in Board of Regents Policy all current Chapter 36 provisions related to these guarantees.
Additionally, as previously stated in our January 29th Faculty Senate Resolution, we again call “for an open process to analyze the proposed public authority”, such that its complete costs and benefits can be fully understood, prior to any consideration for implementation by the Legislature.
Lastly, we reiterate our strong opposition to the proposed $300 million cut to the whole UW-System, and likely $40 million UW-Milwaukee share of it. Such an overwhelming cut would be a significant setback that will permanently alter our future, impairing our abilities to meet the needs of students and fulfill our research mission. Unnecessarily harming UW-Milwaukee at this crucial time is not the path that leads to a brighter future. Southeastern Wisconsin and the whole State need more not less of what we have to offer.

UW-Milwaukee University Committee (Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate)
Mark D. Schwartz, Chair
Margo Anderson
Michael Brondino
Lane Hall
Sandra McLellan
John Reisel
Luc Vanier

Upcoming Budget Forums

The next three campus budget forums have been set as follows:

Monday, February 23rd 10:00-11:00am in the Union Wisconsin Room.
Tuesday, March 3rd 2:30-3:30pm in the Union Fireside Lounge
Tuesday, March 10th 11:00am – 12:00 noon in the Union Wisconsin Room.