Opinion: UWM deserves better

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 14, 2015

UWM deserves better

The July 7 op-ed piece by Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, sought to explain why Wisconsin has not performed economically as well as Minnesota over the decades. Among the factors he cited, the presence of the University of Minnesota flagship campus in Minneapolis is “an economic driver Wisconsin can’t match.”

Or hasn’t matched. Wisconsin could have been investing in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to create the great public university that our city and state need to thrive. That has never been a priority for state government nor for Milwaukee’s private sector.

It is often observed that as Milwaukee goes, so goes the state. And as they say, “you get what you pay for.”

Which brings me to a related story in the Journal Sentinel, “UW System’s final budget released. Campuses find out winners and losers.” It is, indeed, a strange time when winners and losers alike are being hit with the largest budget cuts in their history. UWM is a winner because it will only lose $30 million over the next two years. Factor in the loss of secure tenure and shared governance and the governor and Legislature have scored a trifecta that will surely enhance our business climate.

An underfunded UWM will be crippled; talented faculty will leave for, well, the University of Minnesota, where the state is investing in higher education. And my taxes will decline an astounding $10 or something. It’s a great day in Wisconsin!

David Petering
University Distinguished Professor
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee