A historically unprecedented meeting of the full university faculty will consider a Resolution of No Confidence in the Board of Regents and UW System President Ray Cross on Tuesday, May 10 at 2:30 in the Architecture and Urban Planning Building, room 170.The UW-Madison Faculty Senate voted in favor of a No Confidence Resolution earlier this week. Similar resolutions are being considered across the UW system.
A symbolic action, the No Confidence Resolution highlights the UWM community’s alarm over the effects of fiscal austerity on the university system and the Wisconsin Idea. The past decades have seen dramatic decrease in state funding of education: while state funding accounted for 40% of UWM’s budget in 1996, it has dwindled to 13%. UWM is increasingly tuition-driven, making a college education unaffordable for many.
Unprecedented cuts in state funding to education particularly threaten UWM’s unique dual research and access missions. Imposed austerity endangers UWM’s recently earned, prestigious distinctions as a top tier (R1) research and community engagement university.
The UWM community is all too aware of the direct impact cuts to funding have on student success. As departments and programs are forced to reduce course offerings, students find it increasingly difficult to make their way towards graduation. Some of the most productive faculty in terms of teaching and research are leaving UWM. Since attrition saves money, they are largely not being replaced.
Fiscal austerity has been accompanied by new policies governing the UW System. Passed last summer, Act 55 undermines long-functioning university protocols of shared governance and academic freedom. Shared governance enables the university to respond to challenges in a democratic manner, while academic freedom protects the “free and untrammeled inquiry” heralded by the Wisconsin Idea.
Across the UW System, many faculty have little or no confidence in the ability of System President Cross and the Board of Regents to protect the university and to lead the system in difficult times. A statewide Tenure Policy Task Force drew faculty and administrators into the process of writing new, Act 55-compliant policies, but was largely disregarded by the Board of Regents in crafting the final policies. Similarly, in its April meeting the Board adopted language written by the UW System counsel, failing to even consider language authored by representatives of the faculty, a violation of the principles of shared governance.
Link to agenda and documents here.