Jan 27, 2015

Professor Richard Grusin (Director of the Center for 21st Century Studies) spoke during the “persons wishing to be heard” segment at the start of the meeting about the importance of the statutory authority of UW-System and how it worked as a recruitment device, as it did when he was hired. He asked the following questions: 1) Are we on the verge of shifting them from statutory to contractual basis?; 2) What has been the study regarding these proposals?; 3) Where has been the open discussion? He pointed out that the budget cuts seem to be taken as a fait accompli by the System President, yet these monumental decisions will deeply affect employees and the very nature of the university. There are no alternatives to the proposal, no rebuttals or variations. He ended by asking the UC to urge the Chancellor “to not to turn his back on UWM,” and to urge President Cross to “not to turn his back on the University System.” It was pointed out that if the proposal stands, budget cuts take us back to 1998 levels of support, yet it is very difficult to assess the advantages of our alleged new autonomies. It was also pointed out that cutting $20 million by July 1 is almost impossible. What do such cuts look like, and where is that much unencumbered money at UWM?

The Chancellor joined us at 1:15pm and mentioned that he will be sending out another update to campus later this afternoon. He reviewed the categories inherent in the proposal, which are: 1) moving the System to a public authority; 2) creation of a dedicated funding stream; 3) clarifying accountability issues; 4) and a budget cut of $150 million x 2 (due to biennium allocations). State property would potentially be leased to us and then revert to us after being paid for. We would not be state employees, we would be public employees. We would have tuition setting authority and pay-plan authority. President Cross and Regent Falbo have both said they support leaving Chapter 36 intact, though it would be changed from state law to Regent policy. There is a Board of Regents meeting next week where the impact of budget cuts will be discussed. We will know the Governor’s full proposal on February 3rd, but it then goes through legislative deliberation that will take a few months.

Committee members further outlined their deep concern about the unprecedented budget cuts and the effect they will have on the UWM community. The need to quantify the consequences such as jobs lost, programs eliminated, or students turned away was discussed. Concern was raised about the longer term trend of shifting the costs of higher education to students; it was noted that a hallmark of the University of Wisconsin System is that a high quality education is affordable to all of the State’s students–continued cuts at the level proposed threaten this. Overall, we then expressed our intense unease about the situation: the theoretical benefits are far into the future, but the costs are immediate and devastating. The Chancellor will be addressing all these issues at the plenary tomorrow, Wednesday, January 28.

Proposed System Changes to Chapter 36

Here are the most recent developments we have heard regarding on-going discussions about potential UW-System budget cuts, creation of a UW-System “Public Authority”, and potential changes to Chapter 36/faculty governance. Much of this was discussed to some degree by a group of around 200 persons attending a College of Letters and Science Open Forum held today (Friday) starting at Noon in Bolton 150:

1. A potential base budget cut for the entire UW-System (of up to $150 million) is being discussed, which would continue for both years of the 2015-17 biennium. Biennial math makes these numbers a bit difficult to relate clearly/correctly, so here is some additional explanation. One way this could happen (if it was all “front loaded”) is that in the first year there would be a cut to the base budget of $150 million, and then no further base cut in the second year (but no restoration either), so the total amount of lost revenue would be $300 million over the two years (not $450 million, which would be the case if there were base cuts of $150 million in EACH of the two years). If a potential cut of this magnitude was allocated to campuses across the UW-System as they have been historically, then UW-Milwaukee’s share could be about a $20 million cut to our base budget, and lost revenue of $40 million over the biennium.

2. Changing the entire UW-System into a “Public Authority” is under discussion, but little beyond that is clear. Apparently one way that could be done would be for “Chapter 36” to be removed and replaced with a new “Chapter 37″, which would authorize the public authority. Under that potential change, faculty/shared governance and tenure could be removed from State law, instead becoming Board of Regent Policy.

The UC will be discussing these serious matters (and potential faculty/campus action to get ahead of this) further at our meeting next Tuesday (1/27). We encourage all faculty to start thinking about these issues and their potential implications for our campus, as well as to attend and discuss, at the plenary next Wednesday (1/28), Faculty/Faculty Senate Meeting next Thursday (1/29), and first planned all-campus meeting (announced by Chancellor Mone today) on February 10th, 9:00-10:00am in the Student Union Wisconsin Room.

Jan 20, 2015

The committee met with Sarah Morgan, Chair of the Academic Staff Committee, and discussed items of mutual interest, including the plenary/joint governance meeting on Wednesday, January 28. The Faculty/Faculty Senate meeting will be held on Thursday, January 29th. We also discussed recent press reports about plans for the University System to be unveiled in the governor’s budget on February 3. See the article on Madison.com, “Walker Administration Considering More Autonomy for UW System”.

Sarah and Mark Schwartz have a joint meeting of the academic staff and faculty reps with System Administration in Madison on January 23, and may find out more about these proposals.

Jan 13, 2015

We began with discussions about an upcoming interview with WPR regarding President Cross’s recent comments. We then discussed a new report on salaries and salary comparison with other institutions. We met with Mark Harris and Maria GJ and briefly discussed how to get “beyond the echo chamber” regarding communications with legislators, with it noted that general legislative dynamics will likely remain constant for the next decade. We followed up on our previous commitment to upgrade graduate student stipends and had some deep conversation about how to make this raise happen within the constraints of current austerity budgets. We remain committed to providing competitive positions to graduate students in recognition of their essential roles within the research and teaching of the university. We will be speaking with the administration about this issue, and will bring it up at the next Faculty Senate meeting. We have also decided to try to meet with UW-Madison’s UC with the goal of fostering better communications.

Dec 23, 2014

We began with a discussion about the status of faculty governance at the level of state policy. Credible sources have informed us that taking faculty and staff governance out of state statutes is under serious discussion. When Provost Britz arrived, we had a follow up to the Faculty Senate conversation about the Strategic Plan, after which we continued with our earlier discussion about that status of faculty governance. We agreed that we need to find a lot more information about proposed legislative changes. After discussing the short term schedule of meetings, we adjourned, and wish everyone Happy Holidays.

Dec 16, 2014

We met with ASC Chair Sarah Morgan and discussed the new plenary format where everyone will be invited to stay after the Chancellor’s speech in the effort to open up better channels of communication for all UWM workers. We also discussed issues about granting graduate faculty status to non-faculty members who are qualified to teach graduate students.

We moved on to discuss the Report from the UC for the upcoming Faculty Senate meeting, feeling that it was important to address the aggressive assault of faculty integrity on the part of some state legislators. We then received a follow-up about the hoped for implementation of a potential graduate assistantship pay increase, and concluding by debating some related budgetary issues.

Dec 9, 2014

We met with a faculty member who spoke about campus safety in the evening hours, and the fact that staff and faculty cannot take the BOSS (“Be On the Safe Side”) buses due  to how that program is funded. This led to a broader discussion about “disaggregated budgets” and the need to think of these things more holistically. In this case, we need “evening safe transit” for all of the UWM community, and will pursue the issue. Once the Provost arrived, we had a follow up on previous issues of the TKE fraternity house and Charter School recruitment. UWM has severed all ties with the fraternity, and the “money for students” Charter School recruitment will no longer be allowed. We had an animated discussion about faculty numbers, faculty exodus, and conversely, faculty recruitment and retention. We also discussed our ongoing messaging issues in regards to both internal and external communications and their impact on morale.

We then met with Interim Chancellor, Mark Mone, who updated us about numerous issues, such as the Med Scholars program, the Chancellor’s Task Force on Sexual Violence and how it is populated, the status of the Strategic Planning document in context of the timing of the Chancellor’s search, the idea of the Plenary being decoupled from the Faculty Senate which could make a joint meeting more inclusive of all UWM workers. We have the good news that marginal tuition revenue is projected at this point to be up between 1.2 and 1.6 million, which indicates a stabilizing “uptick” trend, and we also discussed the chaotic way that student scholarships are disbursed, and the need to do a better job with this. After this in-depth conversation, we met with the Secretary of the University to discuss the specificity of procedures for the FAGC (Faculty Appeals and Grievances Committee) and sought to clarify what kind of cases should come before that committee.

Nov 18, 2014

We began with a discussion of activities of the grassroots working group, UWM & MPS Civic Engagement Partnerships and how we can create deeper partnerships with MPS. We then discussed our feeling that further discussions and implementation of the Strategic Plan should wait until the Chancellor search has ended. We also met with the chair of the Codification Committee to review potential changes to P&P Chapters 6.21(2) & 4.04(4), regarding the prevention of potential conflicts of interest within departmental executive committees and faculty standing committees with faculty serving in high-level administrative roles. Specifics of wording went back to Codification for further clarification, and it was agreed that we would review it again when updated. We also reviewed the UC’s report for the upcoming Faculty Senate this Thursday, November 20th.

Nov 11, 2014

The UC first met with Interim Chancellor Mark Mone and discussed ongoing budgetary issues as well as the status of the proposed Union development, which is facing hurdles at the state level. We then met with editorial and educational Journal Sentinel staff. We had conversations about the nature and importance of research, the funding climate for higher education in the state, collaborative relationships with Marquette, our successes with internationalizing the campus, and some of our challenges with transportation within our geographically distributed campus.

Oct 28, 2014

We discussed funding structures and policies for graduate assistantships, and want to be sure that budgets reflect a research priority regarding compensation levels and would like to see an upcoming budget model that concretely reflects this.