Transcript below video:
Chancellor Mone: Good morning, everyone. This is the sixth meeting that we have had in the series of weekly meetings. We had last week off for spring break. I hope you all had some time off and were able to catch up on rest and recuperation, and prepare for the rest of our semester.
This is the sixth in the series that we’ve had. I’ll talk a little bit more about our future schedule in terms of a brief overview, and it will be very brief. I’m going to just give the shortest of updates and we’ll suspend our regular format, so that we can hear from our UW System President Ray Cross who we’re very fortunate to have joined us today to engage in dialogue with some of the things that are happening, some of the questions that we have, and a great healthy exchange of information.
We’ll then have open discussion.
If you’re live streaming or here and want to submit your question real time, we have a format that you can submit your question, firstname.lastname@example.org. We do have some questions that have been sent on ahead of time, so we will have those. We’ll respond to many of those questions first and then open it up for the Q and A format that we’ve used in the past. What I’d ask, when you do come up to the mic is to let us know who you are in terms of where you’re at, and if you can limit your question and/or statement to one to two minutes, we’ll be able to allow as many opportunities for folks to participate as we can.
Just some quick updates, since we’ve last met on March 10th, we’ve continued to have meetings with the different governance groups as much as we have been able to, as much as we can to share information to answer questions, and to provide updates.
- There was on Friday, the Joint Finance Committee that had a hearing in Milwaukee. They’ve had a series of those, those who will continue. We had strong representation from the community. There were number of themes and a number of individuals from UWM and I think there’s been a fair amount of discussion on campus and some of the updates that have been out regarding that. We had a number of key statements that were read from University Committee Chair Mark Schwartz, from Vice Chancellor Tom Luljak, from a number of you who are able to speak to that.
- We’ve had a number of internal and external meetings that continue in a dozens in terms of specifically around the advocacy, around communication, around having dialogue, about how we’re planning for the budget.
- There have been resolutions from different governance groups, both on our campus, as well as others that have been endorsed and approved, and sent on to the system and regents and others.
In terms of what’s coming up looking forward, on April 9th and 10th in Waukesha is the next Board of Regents meeting. We’ll have a series of additional meetings in the future, and one change in format is as we’ve been counting the participants at the sessions that we’ve been having, and in terms of who’s streaming online, what we’ve seen is a decline and what we’ve found is that as we’ve been having meetings internal at schools and college and support units, there’s a rich, very, very good dialogue that we’re having. So we’ve scheduled 14 meetings with schools, college, and support units, and we’ll be doing those. We’ve got several more this week. We’re continuing to have those through the semester and then we’re going to have this format on a monthly basis. If we need to have more or if there’s anything that’s new or urgent, we will let that–we can go back to a weekly format, but it just seems to be right in terms of the cadence of communication.
So, the next meeting that we’ll have for the campus would be April 13th, from 2 to 3 p.m., and then on May 8 from 9 to 10 a.m., and you can see the locations here. And as I mentioned school, college, and support unit meetings will continue. So, that’s in terms of the meetings and communication, what’s going on.
In terms of the legislative budget timeline, just to keep this in front of everyone, where we’re at, the Joint Finance meetings will be concluding by the end of this month. In early April, the Joint Finance Committee executive sessions will begin and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau will take the information that’s been generated and all the feedback, and prepare budget papers or basically put this into more legal law format. Late April and early May, the budget will go to the full legislature. The budget bill will then be signed by mid-May is the goal and we’ve known in the past, sometimes that takes longer and we’ll see. But that’s the proposed timeline in terms of where we are at right now.
So with that, what I’ll do is hand this over and ask UW System President Ray Cross to join us, and before we do that let me just quickly mention that I believe President Cross will provide some comments and then we’ll go to a Q and A format. But we know some of the questions will be aimed at other members of folks that are up here. Let me just quickly introduce, for those of you who don’t know who we have on the program today. We have our coach here of the Classified Staff Advisory Council, Stanley Yasaitis, on your far right. Next we have Student Association President Ryan Sorenson. Well, the order is a little different than what we had before. Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administrative Affairs, Robin Van Harpen. We have Academic Staff Committee Chair, Sarah Morgan. Over here, Professor Mark Schwartz, University Committee Chair, President Ray Cross, Provost Johannes Britz, Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Communications, Tom Luljak, and our Chief Legal Council Joely Urdan. So, with that I’ll ask President Cross to come join us, whatever you prefer.
Ray Cross: Good morning. Thank you. It’s really nice to be here and to share some thoughts but I will try to keep any remarks very short and I’ll try to answer the questions as briefly as possible so that you can continue to ask questions, because I believe the dialogue–the conversation is very healthy. And we tend to, if we make presentations, anticipate your questions and don’t always do it too well.
So, let me start with a couple of things. This is a difficult time. It’s a stressful time. We are going to get through this, we will. Hopefully, we’ll be on a better position than it appears we are at this point. And so I want to pick up three, possibly four items and let you know where I think things are, and then move right into questions.
First, I have not met one legislator who at this point is not sympathetic to our request to reduce the budget cut, not one.
Secondly, so I–we are anticipating that, the question is, where might those resources come from. And we are anticipating that revenues will look better in April and that will be announced at early May, and that should have an impact. When we first began discussing this in early January, internally with a couple of key leaders in the legislature, when the cuts began to–oh, these are pretty serious cuts here, what’s going on? We were not first in line, K-12 was. Road builders were second, transportation, and tax cuts were third. And we were further down the line. At that point I said to one legislature, “So, the university is not on your Christmas list, is that what you’re saying?” Today, we are tied for first with K-12. So we are first in line, we’re tied with them and I think that speaks to the question about the commitment that we’re trying to make with respect to public education, higher education, and K-12 education.
Second issue I want to point out is that there is mixed support. And some of you would say “Ray, there isn’t mixed support, there is no support”, and I understand that for the public authority. And part of the problem of understanding what a public authority is, it gets conflated with all these other things. It’s connected to the shared governance and tenure debate in chapter 36 and the removal of 36. It gets connected to all those other things. It’s really not that complex. It’s a simple mechanism, a symbolic one at best rather than a substitute or real one into which individual flexibilities and six categories are placed. All it does is exempt the university from traditional state agency regulations and requirements. And in my opinion, and I’ve stated this many times, it’s the best vehicle for the university to capture those flexibilities. It doesn’t guarantee them anymore than any other mechanism. It just doesn’t. There are some problems with it, and I’ll be happy to speak to those later. There are two serious concerns we have with that, that we’re attempting to understand better, but there clearly are. Can we capture those flexibilities without the public authority? Absolutely. So what you’ll hear me say is that I believe that these six categories of flexibilities are important, very important. We are one of four states, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon, and Wisconsin, that highly regulate their higher education system. Oregon is changing and has already made movements in that direction. New York has. Rhode Island, to my knowledge, has not, and neither has Wisconsin. I think it’s to time to do that. As states recognize, we need to provide higher education institution at greater latitude.
The third category is often not talked about and that’s the dedicated funding stream proposed in the budget. What is that? It’s misunderstood a little bit, but to us that is one of the gems inside of this budget proposal. What it does is take the base funding for the university. And where that base is established is critical, so I’m not disputing that. But in future years, it annually increases the funding to the institution, to the system according to the CPI, the consumer price index. So it has a CPI escalator in it. Why is that important? In 1998, our funding coming for operations to the university was $799 million, roughly. Today that number from the state, the general program revenue from the state for operations, not debt service but for operations, is $793 million. Fifteen years later, we’re receiving $6.5 million less in state support. Very serious. Do I think that’s going to get better? I doubt it. Concurrently during that time, obviously the difference was made up with tuition. Tuition is where that shift occurred, and sizable increases in tuition over that period. In one year, there was an 18% increase in tuition to offset a $250 million reduction for to university. I think the dedicated funding stream has the potential to stabilize revenues coming to the university, make them predictable and stable.
And I would also argue that the biggest challenge facing the university today is the compensation of its faculty and staff. In the last eight years, we have received one pay plan for 1% for each of two years. We have also had furloughs for two years and we had reductions on our benefits that you and I had to pick up. My point is, do I think that’s going to get better? No. I think we have to find a way to secure funding, stable funding so that we can adequately compensate our employees. I believe one of the best tools to do that is the pay plan being shifted from the legislature into the hands of the board and the flexibility accompanying that as well as the dedicated funding stream which stabilizes that. That, too, will stabilize tuition. So having said all of that, those are three big pieces that I think are important in this budget and I know you have several questions. If you would like, someone can read them or I’ll just read them and answer them. But we can start wherever you’d like Mark, so.
Mark Mone: Keri [assumed spelling], if you wouldn’t mind, if you happen to have those questions, perhaps, if you can read those? And these are questions that were submitted to the format, to the website that we have for the budget. Not types of questions but these were specifically asked of the system president. Please.
Reader: All right. The first question was submitted by Jim Skorlinski from Purchasing. In the previous state budget creation cycle, procurement flexibility legislation was drafted by UW System but was not considered by the legislature. What will be the plan to obtain flexibilities in procurement and construction contracting if the proposed UWS authority legislation will no longer be considered by the legislature?
Ray Cross: Within the flexibilities requested, both procurement and capital bonding, particularly revenue bonding, flexibilities are requested. We have received very positive feedback from a legislature with respect to procurement or purchasing processes. I forgot what we estimate that could save us, but all flexibilities in total probably won’t exceed 15 to 20 million at best. Unlike some of the estimates that have been thrown out there and we’ve gone through that very carefully. And that includes some additional expenses in there as well. On the capital side, if it’s GPR bonding, that will stay the same. If it’s funding coming directly from the state for state projects, that will stay the same still, be functioning in the same fashion. The flexibility principle, the advantage is on what would–other states would call “pretty close to revenue bonding.” You’re not bonding against the assets, the physical assets. You’re bonding against the proforma of financials of like a residence hall. What are the–What’s potential to maintain 85% occupancy? What are the revenue streams for that? And the university would have the flexibility to do that even if the state didn’t approve of this through a normal process. We think that offers tremendous advantage to the university, that particular item. And part of what happens is the state is recognized as the final payor should the campus be unable to pay for it, should the system be unable to pay for it, then the state has to list this as part of its indebtedness. So, it actually elevates the cap, even though the state is not paying anything into it. And our goal is to handle that. We think we can actually secure a lower finance rate, given that. It also helps the state because it reduces their cap.
Reader: All right. One more purchasing question and then I know there’s people who have statements, so you’re welcome to come get in line because we can take turns. So, when do you expect the recommendations and results of the UW System here on study to be made public? And are there any recommendations that can be shared with us at this time?
Ray Cross: There are three phases we’re going through. And I think my original comment was that we would have some feedback in the spring. And we were hoping it would be in April. I think there some preliminary reductions that will be made by April 15th. And those will not be really sizable, but they are focus on UW System administration within the system at the office. A couple of million dollars, we’re projecting it could be saved in those first round of cuts. The second round rule in about July, mid-July, July 15th or so, and the reason that’s taking longer is they have to map a lot of process they go through and actually chart each process, each step in the task, and tasks within a function. And that takes a little longer and that will probably result in some significant savings. And then the third phase probably won’t be completed until the 15th or so of November, and that’s a rough date. That phase will analyze consolidation, regionalization, and functions that could actually be centralized to save campus’ money or regionalize or, you know, done in a different way. So, there are three different pieces to that right now. I don’t know if that answers the question, but.
- Good morning. I’m David Petering, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Overwhelmingly, faculty governance bodies across the system, this would be faculty senates and so forth, have passed resolutions that call for the retention of tenure and shared governance and Chapter 36, referral or consideration of public authority until the budget and operational implications are understood and agreed upon. I think the regents brought that point up very strongly in the last meeting and agreed to be favorable to the system’s future and removal of budget cuts and tuition freeze. You’ve been silent in response to the statements at least that have come from UWM faculty senate. I’m on the senate. Do you support these positions? The last resolution from the faculty senate ended with a recall upon President Cross and Chancellor Mone to support these positions in order to gain the confidence of the faculty.
Ray Cross: First of all, I support shared governance, I support tenure, I’ve said that hundreds of times. What I think we have to look at today is what is happening to Chapter 36? Obviously, I would have preferred that it not be taken out of state statutes. But Wisconsin is the only state in the nation where those terms, those institutions within our institutions are in statutory language. So, let’s take a look at the process today. What happens? So when the governor, when he put forth this bill, he actually struck that language, most of chapter, not all of Chapter 36, he struck that. He said, “Whoa, OK, what does that mean, Ray?” What that means is, now, the legislature and in particular, 9 of the 16 members of Joint Finance have to affirmatively put that back in. So when you think about that, you say “OK, what will they put back in?” Then the second part of that is, therefore, the board has acted by creating two taskforce[s], one on tenure and one on shared governance, to attempt to draft language policy languages so that we preserve shared governance, now there may be some changes. We’re doing this in a shared governance model, we aren’t arbitrarily doing this. We’re doing collaboratively with faculty, particularly on tenure, but with shared governance entities to help draft these policies. They may be very similar to what we have, but nevertheless, we’re trying to preserve this. We think they are fundamental, fundamental to higher education. And if there’s anyone who doubts that I feel that way, I would like to know what I could do to do disabuse you of that. There’s no question about that. How best to preserve those and to do it in a way that allows us to function effectively is yet to be determined. But I can assure you that whatever comes out on the other side, shared governance and tenure will be in place.
Petering: OK. The third aspect of that was the cuts and the tuition freeze, coming on hills, of course, of previous cuts and so forth that have really left UWM in a pretty damaged position.
Ray Cross: And the question about that was?
Petering: The question is, I have not heard from system administration really a very strong position on this as to what–the fact that those cuts will be devastating particularly because the legislatures now are saying, well, we don’t think you should be able to raise tuition at a rate commensurate with trying to deal with the depth of those cuts. And so far, you’ve gone along with the tuition freeze. So I mean, I just don’t see a strong position that really makes it clear that what you’re doing is undercutting in a very severe way the possibility of UWM and UW System remaining excellent institution.
Ray Cross: Obviously, I don’t agree with that, David, but because you don’t see the fight or the advocacy going on or the arguments, don’t assume that it isn’t. Publicly, we have made several statements about the seriousness and the challenges these budget cuts create. Secondly, I would argue that if you listen to legislators, they are sympathetic to reducing these, they are sympathetic to that. They want to reduce it. So my comment is how do you think they got that way? So, third part of this is that I think it’s important that we’re careful and thoughtful. If you look at our track record, we are receiving less state funding today than we were 15 years ago for operations. We did get an increase in debt service. If you look at that and you say “Oh my goodness, where is this headed?” Is the state committed to supporting public education and higher education? Part of what we have to do is help in that education process and that how do we establish and reestablish the importance of higher education? Not just what you often hear, the creation, the preparation for a job, that’s the technical college’s role. That’s not our role. That happens to be an outcome that’s connected to what we do by preparing people to think more critically, rationally, write well, all of those other pieces. The value of higher education has to be more clearly established and part of what you don’t see is what’s going on behind closed doors. We have, for too often, fought our battles on the front pages of the newspaper and that hasn’t been very successful. And I’m trying to do most of that behind closed doors, David.
Petering: Thank you.
>> Hi, President Cross. Thanks for being today. My name is Rachel Ida Buff. I teach history and comparative ethnic studies here. I’m a faculty senator and I also teach Sunday school.
>> You also teach what?
Rachel Ida Buff: Sunday school, what you have in church or temple. So, I have two questions. The first is I keep asking for numbers about these so-called flexibilities and I would like a handout or an email to be disseminated because I have my suspicions about what flexibility really means, because I’m not seeing the numbers. I’ve asked at all kinds of levels with the new UWM and everyone says we’re just going to able to do more with less and I sometimes think the flexibility is going to about personnel and labor rates, about faculty and staff. And please, please send around some data that disabuses us of this notion. The second is in response to Dave’s question. You talked a lot about things that happened behind closed doors, but I’d like some leadership here. And I want to ask you, speaking as a Sunday school teacher, to take some moral leadership and tell us which side you’re on. I want you to tell us.[ Applause ]
This is a very difficult time for us here. We need to know that you’re on the side of shared governance as written. I have a friend who teaches in the med school and she says, “Yeah, we have tenure.” She’s not comfortable in her job going to the window to watch a demonstration if her boss is watching. That’s not what I came to the University of Wisconsin to do. I want to know that you support shared governance. I want you to know that you support more support from the legislature and from the state for education. I want to know that you, as our leader, are on the side of tuition equity and access to all students and I would like a statement, a public statement not behind closed doors, because I don’t get to go behind those closed doors to that effect. Thank you.
Ray Cross: Wait a second, if I may? Let me try to state it again. I very publicly, very publicly am embracing and standing behind and believe in shared governance, in tenure and we’ll support those. That’s a part of my fiber, too. I believe in that. I’m trying to find ways to preserve it and I’m committed to that. I am committed to affordability for all students in Wisconsin and I believe that the legislature is as well from both parties. How best to do that when they’re confronted with a budget challenge is another question. The other element is–I understand why you want me to take sides. I’m doing–
Rachel Ida Buff Sides? I want you to do your job and represent us. Sides? This isn’t ideological, this is the university. It’s not a side, I mean, there’s Republicans in this room, there’s Democrats in the room. Represent your people.
Ray Cross: Which side–
Rachel Ida Buff It’s not ideological.
Ray Cross: Which side are you talking about? I support–You asked me shared governance, tenure.
Rachel Ida Buff Yeah.
Ray Cross: I’m clearly on your side. What do you mean, what side are you thinking I’m not on?
Rachel Ida Buff I want to know that you support the people who work for you.
>> Oh, OK. What have I said that indicates that I don’t?
Rachel Ida Buff: I think a lot of you talked about closed door dealings. I think more and more reports as we learn the collaboration of UW System and the leadership in writing, the kind of policies we’re seeing now. I think that we have a lot of questions here on the floor. And I think we need affirmation that you’re in fact working to support what we do here. And I’m not confident and I think that that’s shared.
Ray Cross: There were no dealings going on. There were conversations going on. In fact, we pulled the faculty leaders, the faculty reps together early on to have conversations about what we were hearing about the things we were hearing. There aren’t dealings going on.
Rachel Ida Buff: OK–
Ray Cross: What we’re attempting to do is move and persuade legislators. We really are and we are winning that.
>> I’ll say one more thing and then I’ll set. For example, I don’t think it’s necessarily a fait accompli that legislative and states support for UWM is declining. I don’t think the fiscal austerity is necessarily real. We got huge tax cuts and we got austerity. There are lots of this and again that this is not ideological. This is the interest of the institution you work for. I’ll stop because other people want to ask questions.
Ray Cross: I’m not sure I share that. However, I look at it perhaps a little differently, so.
>> My name–Hi, President Cross. My name is Richard Grusin. I’m director of the Center for 21st Century Studies, professor of English here, and I want to thank you for coming to UWM to hear our concerns. My remarks will be blunt and direct among other reasons to underscore the fierce urgency of the crisis we face which threatens the livelihood of thousands of UW System employees and the education quality of hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin students. And I also wanted to just underscore that actions, I think, speak louder than words. I have only one simple question albeit with a substantive preamble. Given that in early January 2015, you called a special meeting of the UW System faculty representatives to warn them that there was a grave threat to Chapter 36 in the upcoming legislative session and the only way to save tenure and shared governance was for you to make a deal with the state’s Republican leadership. Given that, by the end of January, the citizens of Wisconsin finally got to see the deal you had negotiated accepting a $300 plus million budget cut in exchange for establishing a new university system public authority without any serious economic study either of the cost of the transition or the size of the benefits of public authority might yield. Given that, by the end of February, nearly 500 UW System faculty, staff, students, and alumni have signed an open letter demanding you to call for a two-year moratorium on the converging to public authority and on the $300 million budget cuts that have been offered along with that authority. Given that, at the end of March, there now seems to be little support for your public authority whether among UW faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the board of regents, or the Republican legislature. Given that, what we are now left with is a proposed $300 plus million in cuts to the UW System budget and the almost wholesale repeal of Chapter 36 including all of the academic protections such as tenure, shared governance, employment protection, or academic freedom which are fundamental to public university systems across the country. Given your repeated assurances today and in the past that you support and will do everything you can to preserve or even strengthen the academic protections of Chapter 36, currently slated to be repealed by the governor’s budget. Given all of these, my question is, will you pledge here today that if you fail to secure a substantial reduction in the proposed budget cuts and if you prove unable to protect tenure, shared governance and academic freedom for all University of Wisconsin universities and colleges, will you pledge here today to resign your position as president of the University of Wisconsin System? Thank you.[ Applause ]
Ray Cross: Yes.
>> My name is–[ Applause ]
My name is Evan Braun. I serve as vice president of the Student Association here at UWM. I have two quick questions for you. In regards to the public authority model, do you think it is a direct conflict of interest or imbalance of power to have both student shared governance policy and approval of student segregated fees under the direct control of the board of regents?
Ray Cross: Would you say that again? I’m not sure I understand the question.
Evan Braun: Sure. Do you think it is a direct conflict of interest or an imbalance of power to have both student shared governance policy and approval of student segregated fees under the direct control of the board of regents?
Ray Cross: I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re after there, but–
Evan Braun: If we go through with this public authority model and Chapter 36 is repealed, the board of regents will have direct control over student shared governance policy. So they’d be able to change your governance policy for students on how we approve fees and how we would forward fees to them. Do you think it’s a direct imbalance of power for them to have control both over policy and approving our fees?
Ray Cross: Actually, the board–the chancellor has control over what it’s recommended to the board.
Evan Braun: Yes.
Ray Cross: So the board then either acts affirmatively or negatively against that. So I’m not sure–I think you’re saying that they have–they would have control over the policy–
Evan Braun: Yes.
Ray Cross: –and the action that would implement that policy–
Evan Braun: Yes.
Ray Cross: –coming from the students. I think that’s exactly the way most states operate. I really do. I don’t think it’s as big a deal as you perhaps make it out today. I think it’s a fair concern, but there is a check and balance in there. It’s not statutory if that’s your point. That’s right.
Evan Braun: Mm-hm. And then what specific things is UW System administration looking to cut if the $300 million cut goes through and what is being done to ensure that campuses are not taking the full front of the damage from this cut?
Ray Cross: Yeah. Good question. It is my philosophy and I’ve said this all along that the system needs to be reformed and we put that out front in November at the board meeting, our bold reform ideas. One of those has to do with how do we more efficiently take care of those administrative support functions behind the scenes, behind the faculty, teaching, how do we support that in ways that are more efficient, HR, IT, payroll, those kinds of things. And my argument is that I think we have to deal with our administrative savings first as quickly as we can. I really do. And there are those that argue that the system is the most administratively efficient system in the country. I’m not sure I agree with that. I think there are ways we can be much more efficient and that’s part of what this whole effort with you’re on to say helping is to understand and analyze.
Evan Braun: Thank you.
>> Hi. Hi. I’m Nick Fleisher. This is professor of linguistics here. Thank you for being here today. I want to start by saying that I–among other things that I appreciate the comments that you made last month in response to the governor’s suggestion that faculty should teach more classes and in some sort of disparaging remarks he made about faculty workload. You responded in a good way to those. I think you pushed back against that and I think I’m not alone expressing my appreciation to you for that. The question I want to ask you today is about the stable and predictable funding source that you’ve talked about and you mentioned again this morning. It’s true that–I mean as far as I understand, this is a new thing to have CPI paid increases written in the law, starting a few years down the road. One of the questions I have, though, is whether there is any mechanism in the proposal or in the proposed law that would make it difficult for future legislatures to renege on that commitment? And the reason why I ask is because, you know, the continued cycle of cuts we’ve seen goes along with a larger pattern of cutting taxes, cutting services and having a kind of vicious cycle on that sense. And so, I think a lot of us are wondering what kind of long-term stability we can really expect from a legislature that will never consider tax increases rather revenue increases? And a legislature that if it manages to balance this budget in this way is clearly keen to cut taxes again down the road and that will in turn require a future cut. So, this is also connected to shared governance and tenure and Chapter 36 where we’ve seen some recent scapegoating at faculty for things like tuition increases. A number of legislators claim to be concerned with tuition increases when in fact it’s a problem largely that they are making. So I wonder what’s your source of confidence about this, you know, stable funding source and how do you plan to push back against what are some really tendentious arguments against tenure and shared governance that we’re not hearing from the legislators?
Ray Cross: That’s a good question and it’s–and everything you said is accurate. We have no assurance. One legislature cannot commit the next legislature to any kind of, typically, any kind of funding. So, it’s even a greater concern that you have expressed, Nick. What we were seeking is a mechanism that says this is what we should be getting, this is a predictable amount of money, this is where it should be and this is where we can work from. They can always change it, absolutely. And I think one of the regents called that concept that you think this is stable and it’s going to be predictable, he said “That’s fairy dust.” And my response is that “If you look at what we’ve been receiving, I don’t know what you call that, it hasn’t been working for us.” So, how do we put a mechanism in place that helps the legislature understand this is what they should be getting from us over and over. Now, obviously, they can’t commit future legislators to that. What it does, though, and I–this is an old adage that I learned from a powerful legislator several years ago. “It’s always more difficult to take something out of legislation than it is to put it in.” Every two years, we’re begging for a biannual budget and in most cases such as this year, the governor just says “This is what we need, we’re going to take it from you. Here it is.” There’s no rational argument about what we should be getting. And I’m trying to move this to a rational argument to stabilize this incredible volatility in our funding including our tuition. Both of those have been volatile. And I think that’s incredibly important for the future. Can we guard it and protect it? Is it reasonable? It’s just as vulnerable as everything else, but it’s a mechanism that gives us a target. I would like to just comment on something I think that I think Rich said earlier about backroom dealings and maybe others. There were no deals, there were conversations. So when some of this first started coming up, and when I called the faculty reps together, the chancellors, and others and said “Well, this is what we’re hearing, these are some things we’re hearing. Not all from one source, but from multiple sources.” We had no idea what was going to emerge from that, but I wanted to alert them. That’s part of shared governance. I wanted to alert them and get their feedback, get their thoughts on what we should do and how they thought about that. Because we were engaged in some of these conversations. They were conversations more, no deals. We would have liked to have a cut a deal. There’s no–I’m not arguing that. But the kinds of conversation were one-sided and we were arguing on the other side. For instance, one of the things that the governor has argued and has said, even in his press release which still frustrates me, but it’s in part it’s a political arena and I understand that. His argument was “We’re going to give you these flexibilities, in exchange,” that’s the word, “in exchange for this cut.” Now you’re going to have these flexibilities, you’re going to cover this huge cut. Whoa, whoa, whoa here, there’s no quid pro quo here. Either these flexibilities are good for the university or they aren’t. The savings here is not that much. It’s–and we’ll–I’ll provide that worksheet shows that analysis, that very careful detail analysis. But that doesn’t come anywhere near the kind of money that the governor was talking about. Albeit, he’s argument is “Well, we took this from Madison’s documents when they proposed an authority a few years ago.” And, you know, I made some rather trite comments at that point. Well, that was, you know, fairy dust as well, and it’s still is. So, what I want people to understand, there were no deals going on, there were conversations. And we were trying to persuade and move albeit not too effectively.
>> I’m Bruce Fetter. I’m president of the UWM Retirees and, thus, no longer a state employee, so I feel free to speak my mind.
Ray Cross: So these folks haven’t been free–[ Laughter ]
Bruce Fetter: They operate under the constraint of possible administrative sanction, which, thank God, I’m beyond. I went Friday to the Joint Finance Committee meeting at Alverno and I came away with a rather different view of what is happening because I don’t feel that the legislature and the governor necessarily on the same page. The governor is seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency and is doing it on a platform of cutting things and not governing. And this is not what I came away from in my observations of the functioning of the Joint Finance Committee. I know there are a couple of people here, Tom Luljak and David Petering, who are at those meetings on Friday. And I wonder if they–oh you were there, too? I’m sorry, Mark. So I wonder if those who are present at those meetings in addition to–and of course, your own opinion as to whether or not we can expect something rather different from the Republican-controlled houses of the legislature from what the governor is doing in order to advance his candidacy for president.
Ray Cross: I think you raised a really good point. This is no longer in the governor’s hands. He has put his budget in front of the legislature. And I do believe that they will put their own budget bill forward, some of which will probably what he has proposed. But it’s now their budget. And that’s a really good point. And they want to do things a little differently. There’s no question about that.
>> My name is Margo Anderson. I’m also in the History Department here at UWM and a member of the university committee. I would like to give an example of the kind of statements that I have not seen coming either from system or our supporters in general that need to get said. And I’m going to sort of channel Mark Schwartz’s JFC testimony last Friday. This is an amazing statement when you think about it. The inflation adjusted cost for FTE student educational cost is exactly the same at UWM now as it was in 1980. There has been no increase in the cost of educating a student at UWM for 35 years, right? Now, what of course has changed in 35 years is the share that the state government through its GPR allocations and students through their tuition payments pay. Up until 1980 and as the UW System was created in the 1970s, the legislature, the governor, and the public of Wisconsin agreed to a 75%-25% split in the cost of educating Wisconsin residents. So that if you look at the patterning of tuition and GPR, roughly through the 1980s, the early 1980s that held. The cost in 1980 to educate a student was about $4,000. It’s about inflation adjusted if we were in those dollars the same today. 1,000 was paid by the student, 3,000 was paid by the state. Now, we have flipped that profoundly and we’re going down in disastrous forms. What needs to be said is that the university is not a wasteful over bloated system, but that the state has fundamentally withdrawn it’s commitment to public higher education for its residents. The current split is 32% for GPR and about 68% for tuition. And the GPR cuts, of course, even if tuition is frozen, are going to make the ratio tilt even further towards student payments. That can be done graphically, it can be probably explained a little clearer that I had just done, but that is what needs to be said. I agree with Ray and with my former colleague, Bruce Fetter. Effectively the state legislature has now become the Milwaukee County board of regents. That’s an inside joke for those of us in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee County board of supervisors, excuse me. So what we need to be able to do is essentially explain that. We are not wasting money. Thank you.
Ray Cross: Thank you, Margo. I think that’s a very good point. I can assure you that a lot of that has been said. The big challenge the legislatures face is that increase $800 million in Medicaid payments, the pressure to do a lot of work on roads. There are nondiscretionary portions of the budget that are starting to consume the budget. So they have less and less control over that remaining portion. And that pressure without raising taxes or generating additional revenues is being basically absorbed by the university in many ways because they shrink their contribution as you suggested. And I believe when they don’t understand that we work on a modified cash basis and they look at the fund balances and they misinterpret that, they don’t understand that clearly as the average citizen may not as well. It is frustrating to us and we keep looking for–we actually have what you have described there in graph form that we’ve shown over time. So I think we’re doing everything we can to educate particularly the legislature.
Margo Anderson: I think–let me back to the political issue that Rachel Buff raised which is at some point one needs to articulate this as a policy decision for the legislature. You can, in fact, privatize the University of Wisconsin System, which is in fact what we’re doing, right? If we admit that that’s what is happening, we will then, you know, we can then have a conversation with the legislature over the–if that’s what you really want. They may say yes. I think the governor has said yes. So, we need to push that argument in a much clearer way than we have than talking about roads or the Medicaid funding or tax cuts or whatever. Do you want a private university system in the State of Wisconsin? That’s it.[ Applause ]
Ray Cross: Actually in response to that, Margo, that I think the legislature has spoken they do not want to privatize. In fact, they not only want to control our tuition, they want to control a lot of other things. Part of what I’m getting at is I think the university can have greater flexibilities, more autonomy while being accountable to the state but not controlled by the state.
Margo Anderson: Well, we can have that conversation with somebody else be. Thank you.
Mark None: So we have time for two more questions, please, those that are standing and then we can wrap up.
>> Hi I’m Lane Hall. I’m from the English Department and also serve currently on the UC [University Committee]. Some of this just the way this has felt lately, I keep being reminded of a phrase I heard up north in a bar a long time ago where I got ended a long story by saying I though it was a great, great-statement, he said, “I felt like I was dancing until I realize that everyone was stepping on my hands.” And that’s how a lot of this feels as we, you know, witness our colleagues talking about moving on to other pastures, to other shores, hearing people talking about early retirement or just, you know, the sense of kind of a doom and dismantle that kind of looms on all of us. So, I just, you know, want to say that there is, you know, obviously a real emotional kind of wave at all this. Finally, my question now to convert it to a question is a fairly simple one. A lot of us have, for a long time, cared about the Wisconsin idea. Some of us have newly found the Wisconsin idea, now care about it. But I think we, you know, it’s a really cool thing in our state legacy. Deleted from that was the pursuit of the truth that was allegedly an embarrassment to Governor Walker and yet and I could be wrong here, I hope I’m wrong, but it has never been out back into the document. It was seen as a mistake but it was never put back in. So, President Cross, I ask you what happened to the pursuit of the truth. Will it be reinserted into that document and why it hasn’t if indeed it has not been?
Ray Cross: That’s a good question and that–and it comes back in his errata sheet. The governor–I think it typically happens around the 1st of April, publishes an errata sheet to his original bill and he’s already assured us that that would be in–his staff have. Now having said that, if he didn’t do that, I would be screaming from the hilltops, and I think the legislature would put it in automatically. So I’m not too concerned about that, but we will be watching that errata sheet very closely. OK. Very good point.
>> Hi my name is Andrew Urban. I’m a PhD candidate and teaching assistant in the English Department here at UWM. A previous speaker mentioned a suspicion among employees of the university system that flexibility really just means flexibility in terms of labor relations. In a similar way, in my conversations with undergraduates and other graduate students, I’ve noticed the suspicion that flexibility really means flexibility to raise tuition. Specifically, the flexibility to pass politically unpopular, extremely unpopular tuition increases without having to pass them through the state legislature. And so from this perspective, flexibility sounds a lot like freedom from democratic accountability. And so just speak to that. I want to ask what confidence students should have that these cuts aren’t going to result in sizable tuition increases after the expiration of the tuition freeze in 2017? In speaking to the savings offered by the other aspect of the flexibility package, I think you valued it at around 15 to 20 million. We’re looking at about a 300 million cut. You spoke earlier of the guaranteed funding stream as a reason for confidence with respect to tuition, but as you admitted in response to an earlier question the guaranteed funding stream really isn’t guaranteed at all. So, yeah, just to raise my question why should students believe that their tuition is going to remain affordable and that they are not going to get priced out of UWM education?
Ray Cross: Yeah, I think that’s a really good question and that’s a fair question. So, I think–let me take a few moments to try to explain that or at least respond to that. When you look at–and I don’t remember which year it was Governor Doyle was–I wasn’t here–Governor Doyle was the governor and he cut the system $250 million and there was a concurrent increase in tuition of 18%. Over a two-year period, I think it averaged–it totaled 30%. The shift was enormous from the state as some has suggested earlier to the student. And your question is what’s to prevent that, will the legislature do it? Well, the board already has authority to set tuition. The legislature has passed legislation restricting us from doing that last two years and will do so again these two years. I think most students would argue that a tuition needs to be set rationally and not arbitrarily, therefore, components that I believe need to be involved in how you set tuition.
- First, cost, how do you determine what it cost us?
- Second, where are we in terms of the market? How do we fit within the market?
- Third, what are the needs of the state? If the state has some particular needs, are we able to incentivize that in some fashion?
- And fourth, affordability, there has to be affordability factor that plays into this, otherwise, we are truly a private institution, not a public one.
And now, people will argue that if you’re shifting this responsibility to the board, are you not shifting this authority from an elected body to an appointed body? And I would argue at this point, if you look at all of those flexibilities, tuition being one, tuition being one of those, all of those flexibilities either DOA or OSER has control of that. OSER has pay plan authority that is run by an appointed secretary that’s confirmed by the Senate. Or suggesting under these flexibilities is that those are shifted over to the board which has total focus on the university. Still has legislative oversight, there’s no difference there. The question then is how do we responsibly, openly, and fairly set tuition in the future so that we have–I don’t want to say–we have responsibility and an understanding of when tuition is raised, there’s a reason behind it, it is not just arbitrary. Oh, we’re going to cap it, tuition plus CPI, or we’re going to do this, or we’re going to set it in this fashion, or the state makes us a big of a cut, we’re going to just make it up by doing this. You raised a really good point and I’m not sure you want to control mechanism in there but you want an accountability mechanism and that’s what we’re trying to do. We totally agree with that.
Mark Mone: Well, let me thank you all for joining us today. Let me thank you for your questions and concerns and your support as we’re going through a very difficult time. I’d like to also thank President Cross for joining us today for sharing the communication. Thank you also President Cross for the work you’re doing on our behalf and I know you’re communicating, you’re visiting all the campuses these days and spending enough lot of time on the road. It’s not easy for any of us, but thank you for joining us and–
Ray Cross: Thank you.
>> Yes.[ Applause ]
Ray Cross: Thank you. I hope that, you know, as a farm boy when I read the sifting and winnowing comment that means something different to me. I have been on a hay rake and raked hay into windrows. I have seen how combined this work when they shift and winnow. It’s not an easy process. It takes work, but it also takes people being honest and criticizing, confronting, and not being afraid to do that, and for that, I thank you and I appreciate it. I hope that you understand that I’m sincere when I say that. I believe in the academy, I believe in tenure, I believe in shared governance, I believe in academic freedom, and that’s what makes higher education what it is today and such an important institution in our society. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to engage. Thank you very much.
>> Thank you.[ Applause ]
Mark Mone: OK. And will be communicating future dates and meetings and I look forward to seeing you all in various school, college, and support units. Thanks.