Board of Regents Activities This Week!

 

poster for rally

  1. Help Illustrate Our Campus for the Board of Regents and President Cross!:       Chalking Party: Weds 6/8 @ 7pm Spaights Plaza
  2. Thursday @ 1:15: We will go together to Chancellor Mone’s address to the Board of Regents in the Wisconsin Room, UWM Student Union..  Wear t-shirts if you have them. ** If you want to purchase a t-shirt, email rachelida15@gmail.comand I will deliver it to you before Thursday. ***
  3. Friday @ 8 AM: Community Mobilization for Public Education, K-PhD, Spaights Plaza. We will rally @ 8 and then march together into the BOR meeting @ 9.

      *** A big turnout for this rally signals to the BOR and UW System that we are not alone; we have public support. Bring your friends, your family, your neighbors. We need all of us!!!!

University of Virginia AAUP Chapter Statement of Support

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The AAUP chapter at UVA has issued the following statement in support of the UW System faculty and staff no confidence resolutions. (PDF: Statement of Support for the Vote of No Confidence in the Board of Regents and President of the University of Wisconsin System)

The University of Virginia chapter of the American Association of University Professors stands with faculty and staff of the University of Wisconsin system who have voted no confidence in the University of Wisconsin regents and president, for supporting massive cuts in the University’s budget, eroding the faculty’s role in shared governance, and undermining tenure and academic freedom.

Actions by the Wisconsin legislature, the Board of Regents, and the president of the UW system are, as the AAUP and AFT-Wisconsin have stated, “… an attack on the university as a public good that exists for the benefit of all citizens of the state, a vision of higher education that has shaped the UW System since the formulation of the Wisconsin Idea in 1904.”

These are not isolated incidents but symptoms of a national epidemic in public higher education. In 2012 the University of Virginia experienced a similar attack on shared governance that led to a vote of no confidence in the Board of Visitors by the faculty senate. This action ultimately resulted in a favorable change of direction by the Board that supported academic freedom, shared governance and quality in public higher education. We hope that the UW system faculty’s vote of no confidence will have a similar outcome.

We stand with the faculties, faculty senates, and AAUP chapters at Madison, Milwaukee, LaCrosse, Green Bay, River Falls, Stout, and Parkside, and at the UW Colleges, in urging the Regents and the President to follow AAUP-recommended policies and standards with regard to shared governance and academic freedom, especially those policies pertaining to tenure, “financial crisis,” and post-tenure review.

Issued by the Executive Committee of the University of Virginia Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, in consultation with chapter membership, May 26, 2016: John Alexander, Walt Heinecke, George Mentore, Jon Mikalson, Peter Norton, Herbert Tucker.

R1 is as R1 Does: L&S Budget Cutting Practices Threaten both Governance & Quality

As we take a moment to celebrate our recent R1 status and the successful no confidence vote in President Cross and BOR, there is still much to be concerned about…Beware the budget cutting committees!

Over the last year UWM has faced numerous budget crises related to the confluence of historic cuts in state aid and declines in enrollment. Together these have contributed to a roughly $40 million operating deficit for the campus as a whole, and a $5 million operating deficit in UWM’s largest college: Letters & Science.

In response to the budget situation, campus administration has put pressure on L&S to address its deficit over three years. We maintain that the degree of cuts that are occurring in the College and the time frame for these cuts will do irreparable harm and threaten both our R1 designation and dual research and access missions as well as our ability to remain a community engaged university.

We also object to the L&S ad hoc committee that was formed this year to address these cuts.  Although we recognize the dire budget situation in the College and the urgent need to address the budget situation, UWM AAUP maintains several objections to the composition of the committee, its charge, and the current actions taken by this non-governance committee:

1)      This committee operates outside shared governance bodies, yet its charge, focus and recent decisions have huge implications for reshaping the College and University and impacting university employees and program array.  In addition, the composition of this committee is unrepresentative of the breadth of units in the College and should be broadened to reflect the full range of interests that are affected.

2)      Decisions made by this committee have been made without formal adoption by any governance group, and no written record has been established that lays out the rationale or nature of those decisions.

For example: the committee has defined certain principles that are guiding their work, such as the idea that the core of the College is made up of departments and that programs and centers remain outside this core and thus are expendable and will lose College support. A direct action drawn from this logic (which was never publicly debated or approved by any governance body and which goes against key principles identified in UWM’s mission) has been the defunding of all academic research centers, to zero out their 101 funding support from the College.  Such a dramatic cut would threaten the very existence of most centers and will likely lead to layoffs of academic staff who work in those centers.

3)      This committee is deliberately operating in a non-transparent way. For example, no agendas or minutes have been posted since its inception despite repeated requests. College administration has repeatedly stated that decisions have not been made when center directors have been told otherwise and required to meet before the committee.  In response to concerns about this committee, Dean Swain has said any decisions made by the L&S ad hoc budget cutting committee would go through the APGC, but to date nothing has come before the APGC related to this committee’s decisions.

4)      The logic applied by this committee is precisely the approach taken by the Board of Regents regarding its new tenure policy and using the broader financial basis for program discontinuance rather than the narrower and more appropriate academic basis that faculty and AAUP advocated for and continue to support. In other words, the decision to defund/eliminate centers rests purely on a financial basis; it is not a reflection of poor performance or relevance as defined by some metric, but simply the fact that it is a center and in this budget environment based on the principles the committee has adopted that privilege departments, centers are considered a luxury the College can no longer afford.

5)      The decision to single out centers for defunding/elimination is entirely non-strategic and inconsistent with UWM’s mission and often-stated goals to be more cost-efficient.  Centers in the College work with hundreds of community partners (e.g. CED, CLACS), are engaged in community development work to address urban problems and provide policy expertise in the region (e.g. CED), represent an important source of student scholarships and support (e.g. CLACS, CED, C21), provide high levels of visibility in the community through their work and events (e.g. CLACS, CED, C21, Jewish Studies), foster collaboration and interdisciplinary research such as the authorship of books, fellowships, speakers, disciplinary cross-fertilization (e.g. C21, CLACS, CED, Jewish Studies), and represent an important source of gifts, grants, and contract revenue (e.g. CLACS, Jewish Studies, CED).  These centers are important for recruitment of faculty and graduate students and a form of distinction for UWM.  To put it bluntly: the decision to defund L&S research centers is reckless and should be stopped before this committee does irreparable harm to UWM.

6)      Academic research is supported through 101 funds in other ways beyond centers in the College, such as through financial support for labs and lab supplies, but little or no attention has been directed at cutting these funds.  Why not other research activities on campus?  Where is the data for these expenditures?  Why only the focus on centers? Before dramatic cuts are made to research centers that threaten our R1 status, a full accounting of all research expenditures should be undertaken.

7)      The decision to defund centers is not following the approach that already exists to evaluate and discontinue centers, one that was actually approved by governance bodies after years of work by faculty and governance groups (Document S-71 RESEARCH CENTERS AND INSTITUTES APPROVAL AND EVALUATION PROCEDURES)

http://www4.uwm.edu/secu/faculty/senate/agendas/15-16/upload/S71-Research-Centers-Institutes-approval.pdf

This committee, therefore, constitutes a violation of UWM’s well-established protocols of shared governance, and is pursuing actions harmful to the university and College without respect to public debate and our culture of shared governance. These actions to defund centers (and possibly programs in the future) threaten UWM’s dual mission and sacrifice our community engagement and visibility.  They ignore the impact on alumni and donors and the ability to generate grant and contract revenue, as well as the significance of scholarly collaboration and interdisciplinary research, our recently achieved R1 status, and the importance of a diverse array of programming, particularly for underserved students and underrepresented fields. They also fail to recognize the many ways in which the contributions of our academic centers are intertwined with the work of our departments, and the damage that will be done to the latter by defunding the former.  Finally, these decisions to defund centers will also impact our ability to recruit students and faculty and maintain areas of prestige and distinction in the College consistent with our newly designated R1 status.

For these reasons, we demand the following:

  • Do not defund/eliminate academic research centers. Instead, follow existing procedures for evaluating centers; any budget cutting that goes beyond proportional cuts should be strategic with reference to UWM’s mission as a key criterion as well as the notion that a “whole UWM is better.”
  • Utilize existing shared governance bodies to consider any recommendations proposed in the L&S ad hoc committee.
  • The L&S ad hoc committee should have broader representation to include center and program directors.  In addition, we request that an AAUP committee member be included on this committee similar to what Chancellor Mone agreed to for CCOET.
  • Post both agendas and minutes to meetings of ad hoc budget cutting groups and follow legal procedures for ad hoc committees.  If the L&S ad hoc committee wishes to invoke its legal authority to go into closed session under Wis. Stat. sec. 19.85(1), as it has done, it must follow the attendant legal obligations for governmental bodies under Wis. Stat. sec. 19.83 and 19.84.
  • Provide full disclosure of all data that is being used to inform discussion and recommendations, and a fuller breakdown of costs within the College.  These data should be made public in an easily accessible place such as on the main page of the L&S website.  We also call on the Dean and his committee to present data on all College research subsidies with 101 funds to examine the full extent of research costs and College support for them.

UWM faculty: setting the record straight

Yesterday, just prior to the UWM faculty’s historic, unanimous vote of no confidence in UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued a press release that was highly critical of UWM faculty.

The Governor cited a number of statistics about the faculty that are either misleading or false. Here we respond to the Governor’s remarks in order to set the record straight.

We begin by noting that a number of the figures cited by the Governor are a result of UWM’s increased research focus. Earlier this year, UWM achieved the highest research designation, R1, from the Carnegie Foundation. This shows the success of UWM’s research focus, and it enhances the value of a UWM degree for our students and state alike.

We would hope the Governor would welcome this achievement, rather than bashing the faculty who have worked to make it possible on one of the lowest costs to educate per student of any R1 university in the country. UWM is a national low-cost leader.

Faculty salaries at UWM:

The Governor’s cited average salary figure of $101,700 includes only those faculty who have earned the rank of full professor. These are the most accomplished scholars and the top earners, representing approximately 29% of the UWM faculty. This figure may include the salaries of senior administrators who also hold the rank of full professor, such as UWM’s Chancellor, who earns $340,000 (though without access to the dataset used by the Governor’s office, it is impossible to know). [Update, May 12: Pat Schneider at the Capital Times has located the source of the figure cited above. The Governor’s press release linked to the corresponding document from 2003.]

The term “full professor” is not synonymous with “full-time professor.” The full-time faculty at UWM are those who hold the ranks of assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor. Assistant professors are those on the tenure track; associate professors are those who have earned tenure but not yet earned promotion to full professor.

According to 2013 UWM salary data made available via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the median salary across all categories of full-time faculty at UWM is $85,325. Among assistant and associate professors, who together make up 71% of the full-time faculty at UWM, the median salary is $80,150. [Update, May 12: According to the LFB’s 2015 overview document mentioned above, the average salary for assistant professors at UWM is $70,700, and the average salary for associate professors at UWM is $75,200.]

State funding accounts for approximately 19% of UWM’s overall budget. On a proportional basis, the median faculty salary at UWM costs taxpayers approximately $16,200, or roughly a third of the average annual salary in Milwaukee County cited by the Governor. In return, the state reaps the benefits of tens of millions of dollars in external funding generated by UWM faculty, while tuition at UWM is roughly a quarter of what it is at Marquette University.

As a top-tier research university, UWM exists in an academic labor market that is international in scope. According to UW System data, faculty salaries at UWM continue to lag those at peer institutions by 13.5%.

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Spending per student:

The Governor cites a 40% increase in spending per student from 2002-03 to 2015-16. This figure blends together all sources of funding to the university. In fact, state funding to the UW System has declined precipitously in recent years. The bulk of the increase in per-student spending over the period cited by the Governor comes from the steep increases in tuition that he elsewhere decries.

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Student-to-faculty ratio:

The Governor cites a student-to-faculty ratio at UWM of 2.8 to 1. UWM’s homepage cites a ratio of 18 to 1. UW System accountability dashboard data show figures of 23,108 students (FTE) and 814 faculty at UWM for fall 2014. This yields a ratio of 28.4 students per faculty member. The Governor’s cited figure is off by a factor of between 6.5 and 10.

Student contact hours:

The Governor cites a 20% drop in average student contact hours per faculty member from 2000 to 2013. Because of the timespan involved, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

During the period cited, UWM opened research-focused schools of Freshwater Sciences and Public Health, along with doctoral programs in other colleges. The change in student contact hours (i.e., classroom hours) reflects UWM’s increasing research focus, and excludes contact hours spent mentoring graduate students.

As stated above, we find it curious that Governor Walker would choose to criticize UWM faculty based on a statistic so closely connected to UWM’s newfound R1 status.

Enrollment:

The Governor states that student enrollment decreased much faster than the size of the faculty workforce from 2010 to 2014. The choice of 2010 as a baseline is deliberately misleading: 2010 saw an unprecedented population-driven enrollment peak. UW System accountability dashboard data show that, from 2000 to 2014, student enrollment (FTE) at UWM increased by 29.7%, while the size of the faculty increased by only 19.7%.

No Confidence

Today at an unprecedented full faculty meeting, a resolution of no confidence in UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents passed unanimously. Coverage in the Journal Sentinel notes that almost 300 faculty attended in a room with a 175 capacity. And there’s this:

Chancellor Mark Mone said after the meeting that in his nearly 27 years as a faculty member on campus, he had never seen anything like it. “There has not been anything so important and heartfelt in that long,” the chancellor said.

Preceding the reading of the resolution, two officers in the UWM chapter of AAUP spoke. Here are their remarks:

Rachel Ida Buff, President, UWM AAUP

Colleagues:

We gather here today as bearers of a sacred trust. As stewards of the University of Wisconsin, we are the keepers of the Wisconsin Idea: that crucial, democratic notion that the “beneficent influence of the University (should) reach(es) every home in the state.”

Because of our dual mission of access and research, the Wisconsin Idea takes unique shape at UWM. And we have distinguished ourselves, earning esteem as a Research One and Engagement campus.

The Wisconsin Idea promotes educational democracy: the university is funded by and serves the public. Through our renowned and exemplary practices of shared governance, the University of Wisconsin has been a model of functioning democracy.

BUT In the past eighteen months, our ability to carry out our stewardship of the Wisconsin Idea has been impaired by a legislative assault on shared governance and academic freedom. This political assault has been accompanied by unprecedented fiscal cuts, impairing our ability to educate and serve our students.

We are no strangers to hard work. We are used to the slow process of shared governance. We have been patient, trying to actively participate in improving the situation. We have attended listening sessions and meetings; participated in task forces and surveys; researched and written analyses and op-eds and fact sheets.

And now, in concert with colleagues across the system, with consciousness of all we have lost and stand to lose, it finally makes sense to say it: No Confidence, rippling across the state, and beyond.

A vote for no confidence is a symbolic action:

By voting no confidence we assert that the current direction pursued by the Board of Regents and facilitated by UW system President Cross undermines the future of our university and of the Wisconsin Idea;

By voting no confidence we insist on the central role of shared governance, even in times of extraordinary difficulty. Without our inclusion in decision-making, we cannot believe in the integrity of the process nor work for a better outcome;

By voting no confidence we protest the intentional destruction of our internationally recognized university system. This destruction affects each of us professionally.

I have no confidence in the unprincipled duplicity of the Board of Regents and President Cross;

I have no confidence in the increased managerial control, the “flexibility” promoted throughout the UW system that compromises our collective job security and freedom of inquiry.

I have no confidence in a Research One/Engagement campus so deracinated that it cannot fulfil its vital missions.

But I have confidence in you, my colleagues. Together, we can affirm our sacred trust as public university employees, and the principled aspirations of the Wisconsin Idea.

Thank you.

Nick Fleisher, Vice-President, UWM AAUP

We are here today because we wish to speak with our System leaders and with the public about the course that UW System leadership has charted.

We are here because the course they have charted harms research, teaching, learning, and access.

In the past year, we have seen President Cross champion a hasty conversion of the UW System to a public authority, despite a near-total lack of detail on how the new entity would have worked.

We have seen the Board of Regents expressly decline to ask the Legislature to remove non-fiscal items affecting the UW System from the biennial budget.

We have seen a Tenure Policy Task Force that recommended policies which were never endorsed by its own members, and which were subsequently adopted by the Board of Regents despite their failure to comply with AAUP standards.

Thanks to intrepid reporting by Wisconsin journalists, we have learned that President Cross and the Regents worked actively to limit faculty input into those policies.

We have learned, most recently, that President Cross wrote approvingly to Regent Behling about “the real value of removing tenure-related policies from statutory language.”

He added that tenure should not protect faculty “when they are no longer needed in a discipline,” all while supporting policies that allow financial considerations to determine the educational needs of the institution.

And he falsely attributed to faculty the view that tenure is a “job for life,” a talking point repeated by Governor Walker in a press release issued earlier today.

All the while, our campuses have been dealing with unfunded mandates on top of massive budget cuts that harm our students’ education.

We have seen no sign of a plan from President Cross or the Regents for how to stem the tide of state funding cuts.

On the contrary, we have seen new policies meant to enable managerial flexibility: far from appeasing the Legislature, such policies are an invitation to further cuts.

Through all of this, we have seen President Cross and the Regents characterize our continual state of fiscal austerity as if it were an inevitable force of nature, rather than a deliberate political choice.

Such leadership inspires no confidence.

If we lack confidence in our leadership, we must not be afraid to say so publicly.

We must not let fear of reprisal prevent us from bringing our concerns to light.  To do so would be an abdication of our duty to the public whom we serve.

So today, we are here to advocate for those things that have made our university great and that will sustain it in the future.

We are here to advocate for those things that ensure student access to a world-class education in Wisconsin, and that affirm the University of Wisconsin as a truly public good.

Academic freedom and tenure, which is its guarantor; shared governance of the institution; access and affordability for students: these are matters on which there can be no flexibility.

To all appearances, and to the University’s great detriment, President Cross and the Regents have acted as if to carry out the designs of those who appointed them.  Today, echoing the recent comments of the president of the Association of Governing Boards, we call on them to remember “their responsibility as fiduciaries to care for the system.”

Together with students, staff, and colleagues across Wisconsin, we stand in defense of a great public University that is under attack.

Thank you.

UW Struggle: Gong Show Edition

In anticipation of the full faculty meeting at UWM to consider a no confidence resolution in the UW System President and Board of Regents on Tuesday, May 10, we bring you this blog post by UW-Green Bay’s Chuck Rybak, republished with his permission. The original is here.

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What if I told you that someone with responsibility literally brought a red button to a meeting? What if I told you that this person, while his subordinates were making test-run presentations, would push the button and the words ‘no whining!’ would be ejaculated as a sound effect? Again: this is not a metaphor. This is real.

So I’ll ask: Who is this person? What do you imagine the setting to be? Are we talking about adults? Younger people? A gimmicky corporate setting? Friday night neon bowling?

No. That would be the President of the UW System and the subordinates would be our campus Chancellors, who were asked to describe the campus effects of another quarter of a billion dollar cut to state support. They were instructed not to whine (as faculty have been told to not be emotional), and upon further review, the presentations themselves were cancelled. I know what you’re thinking: this can’t be true, no way, this is the president of a university system, we knew you were close and you’ve finally lost it!   I know; that’s what I thought as well. Here is the incident in question detailed by Nico Savidge:

“[The presentations] should be factual, not whiny,” Cross wrote in his message.

Cross insisted on this point — he said in the interview he brought a red button to the meeting to be used if he felt a chancellor was complaining too much in a presentation. When he pressed the button, a sound effect shouted, “No whining!” (emphasis mine, because wow)

What, were hand buzzers and bottles of seltzer spray unavailable? You couldn’t find someone on a unicycle to ride up and poke them in the eyes? Look, I miss Benny Hill too, but I have access to YouTube.

Still, this can’t be true. So I asked Nico on Twitter to confirm—Nico was tweeting a lot about the Final Four, thus I assumed he was brained by an errant chicken wing when the North Carolina Won’t Make Donuts for Gay Heels (see Glazed 3:15) went down at the last moment—he assured me that his mental state was not the problem:

Can you imagine, just for a moment, being a Chancellor of a university—a position with an enormous amount of responsibility to an incredibly wide range of stakeholders—and have someone interrupt you with a ‘No Whining!’ sound effect while you are trying to describe how many staff members you’ve had to lay off and what programs you’ll be cutting, with no end in sight? Would you have an existential moment of crisis where your inner voice conceded, “Oh my god, I’m an adult”? Well, I guess the ‘flexibility’ everyone wants for Chancellors doesn’t apply to their actually speaking without permission and an approved message.

For the record, I really respect my Chancellor and want him to be able to speak freely and honestly about his responsibilities. He is far too classy to ever complain about such a stunt, but I have no class, and thus at the first press of the button I would have immediately gone over the table and engaged in the full Indiana. What is the full Indiana? Behold:

Unfortunately, none of this is a joke.

Right now, the Board of Regents is meeting on my campus, pleasantly hosted by a great number of people they just stripped earned job protections away from. They will have the best parking spots and eat for free. A large portion of the Cloud Commons, where just two night ago students had to wait in line past 9 p.m. to cast their votes, will be blocked off and reserved for this meeting—the Regents will wait for nothing.

What is today’s meeting all about? The continuance of the big lie(s). Right now, a few of those include:

  1. The most important strategy for our future budgets is tone policing. Nico Savidge reported that the presentations were cancelled “after consulting with some Regents and considering, among other factors, the System’s next two-year budget.” False. Reducing money for all things public is a feature, not a bug, andmore cuts are coming no matter what we say or do. Don’t believe me? I suggest you begin making regular stops over at Jake’s place, where he dives into the deep, deep numbers, like this coming disaster: “If the tax-season months of March and April don’t have a bounce-back and stay below trend, it will be likely that the 2016-17 fiscal year budget will have to be repaired…even with $726 million in unspecified lapses built into that budget.”
  2. We have “comparable” and “often better” tenure policies than our peers. This lie has been repeated so often that it’s moving past “big.” We don’t have tenure anymore. We wear a button that says “tenure” until that button is taken away, for any reason you can imagine. That’s been the point all along. That’s also why, whether we whine or not, whether we are emotional or not, more cuts are coming. The reason you strip away everyone’s job security, other than welcoming them to the 21st century, is to begin removing those people. That removal will be dressed up in the language of “necessity” and “tough choices,” i.e. budget cuts. But I get it: the illusion of prestige will be necessary for some to come to work.

But somehow this is all a joke or a gag, worthy of a buzzer; was someone actually tasked with securing a “no whining” button? I can’t help but think what this models for our students and communities, and whether or not anyone cares anymore. We did, after all, just elect a supreme court justice whose main workplace skill/qualification is intolerance. The Rebecca Bradley apologists sang a constant chorus that is relevant to this blog post: those were just college rantings, who wants to be held responsible for their silly college-age thoughts? We grow out of that.

The implication: what college students say should not be taken seriously. But not only is it our job and responsibility to take them seriously, it is our mission.

What students think and feel matters today and it will matter tomorrow. When students interrupted the previous Board of Regents meeting with a chant of protest, the Regent who was speaking at the time rolled his eyes. I was watching the livefeed. He rolled his eyes at students who dared to speak out of turn. When the meeting resumed, the Regents gave themselves yet another round of applause for their hard work, which amounts to a speck of dust when compared with the tenure dossiers of the faculty they swiftly moved to devalue.

So what are we being taught by our central leadership?

Speaking honestly about the effects of another round of brutal cuts is whining. Fighting to preserve job protections, which are an earned property right, is being emotional. (What, after all, is a life’s work worth anyway?) And if you’re a student, or worse, a graduate who has significant debt…learn to be responsible! And these complaints about race and gender issues…silly young coddled college kids.

What is the value of a coordinated message that pretends that everything is okay? At what point is it just blatantly dishonest and who, outside of the UW, will point that out?

I’m not asking for miracles because I’m a realist and I know what is coming. Still, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for our system President to take us seriously, to not belittle the beleaguered, to not scold the scapegoated, and to consider, just once, standing with UW employees even if it means stepping out from behind the great “thank you” emblazoned on our flimsy, rhetorical shield.

A friend of mine posted the following photo the other day from her campus. But there’s nothing to see here, so let’s not whine about it.