All posts by Nicholas Fleisher

Statement on Proposed Revisions to Chapter UWS 17

(Note: The following is cross-posted from the AAUP Wisconsin blog with the author’s permission. A pdf version is avalaible here.)

In October 2017, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents adopted Regent Policy Document 4-21, which prohibits “misconduct that materially and substantially disrupt[s] the free expression of others” and “[p]rotests and demonstrations that materially and substantially disrupt the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity.” RPD 4-21 specifies a mandatory punishment regime for students found to be in violation of those prohibitions—a one-semester suspension for a second violation, expulsion for a third—and the Board of Regents now seeks to bring the Wisconsin Administrative Code into line with its own policy by amending Chapter UWS 17.

AAUP Wisconsin opposes the mandatory student punishment measures found in RPD 4-21 and urges that the proposed modifications to Chapter UWS 17 be rejected. Far from ensuring safe spaces for free expression, the policy institutes a targeted speech suppression regime aimed at curbing student protest. The policy’s broad wording virtually ensures highly selective enforcement. The net effect will be a chilling of free expression on campus, precisely the opposite of the policy’s ostensible goal.

The policy’s history points to its highly partisan and political nature. In June 2017 the Wisconsin Assembly passed AB 299, a bill based on model legislation from the conservative Goldwater Institute that sought to regulate student protest under the guise of protecting free expression on campus. The bill died in committee in the Wisconsin Senate. The Regents nonetheless chose to enact much of AB 299’s content as Regent policy in the form of RPD 4-21. The proposed amendments to Chapter UWS 17 thus must be understood as part of a nationwide partisan policy agenda, one that ill serves our public universities.

In the interest of preserving free expression for students throughout the UW System, we urge the rejection of the proposed changes to Chapter UWS 17 and the rescission of RPD 4-21.

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%.

UWMsalarygap.png

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.

UWfundingbysource.jpg

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%.

Statement on AAUP Compliance of Proposed UW System Policies

The UW-Madison chapter of the AAUP has issued a statement urging the UW System Board of Regents to ensure that the policies on tenure, faculty layoff, and post-tenure review adopted at its meeting today are consistent with AAUP standards, and outlining several criteria for achieving AAUP compliance. The UWM AAUP executive committee endorses the statement, whose major points are reproduced below:

We applaud the UW System Faculty Representatives and faculty members of the Tenure Policy Task Force, who came together unanimously to request significant changes to the Regents’ draft policies. We further call upon the Regents to amend their policies to bring them in compliance with the 2014 Recommended Institutional Regulations of the AAUP.

Any policy that does not meet the following criteria cannot be considered consistent with AAUP’s professional standards and would diminish the standing of the University of Wisconsin System among students and citizens as well as our reputation and competitiveness among our peers:

  • Faculty shall not be laid off or terminated except in case of a bona fide financial emergency or a formal program discontinuance based essentially on educational considerations as determined by the faculty.
  • Educational considerations are distinct from financial considerations and shall not include comparative cost or cost-effectiveness analysis of programs or the need to reallocate resources to other programs that are considered to be higher priority.
  • Any faculty committee responsible for participating in the determination of the existence of a financial emergency, determining criteria for program discontinuance, and/or reviewing programs for discontinuance shall be duly elected by the faculty or appointed by an elected faculty body.
  • Determinations of the Board of Regents regarding the existence of a financial emergency or program discontinuance for educational considerations should concur with faculty judgment except in rare instances and for compelling reasons which should be stated in detail.
  • In the case of financial emergency, all feasible alternatives to layoff or termination of appointments shall be pursued prior to laying off faculty.
  • Faculty review hearings in the case of layoff or termination for financial emergency may question the existence and extent of the condition of financial emergency and whether all feasible alternatives to layoff or termination of appointments were pursued, with the burden of proof resting on the administration.
  • In the case of program discontinuance for educational considerations, every effort shall be made to place the faculty member in a suitable alternative position.
  • Faculty review hearings in the case of layoff or termination for program discontinuance may question whether the conditions for discontinuance were essentially educational, as determined primarily by the faculty, and whether every effort was made to place the faculty member in a suitable alternative position, with the burden of proof resting on the administration.
  • Program reduction through modification or redirection resulting in faculty layoff or termination shall not be permitted.
  • Program reduction through curtailment resulting in faculty layoff or termination shall only be permitted in case of bona fide financial emergency.
  • In the event that a faculty member is laid off or terminated as the result of program discontinuance for educational considerations, faculty shall receive severance in accordance with AAUP Recommended Institutional Regulation 8.
  • Faculty shall have the right to challenge the findings and correct the record of any post-tenure review or remediation plan by appeal to an elected faculty grievance committee.

We urge the Regents to remember our legacy and preserve it for future generations of scholars, for the benefit of the people of Wisconsin.

UWM AAUP Calls on the Board of Regents to Support and Sustain UWM’s Research and Access Missions

FOR RELEASE: February 10, 2016

UWM AAUP Calls on the Board of Regents to Support and Sustain UWM’s Research and Access Missions

The eyes of the country are on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) this week as the campus hosts a Democratic presidential debate. What will UWM look like the next time it hosts a presidential debate? The answer may depend on actions taken by the Board of Regents in the very near future.

UWM plays a vital and unique role in public higher education in Wisconsin. Of the 26 UW System campuses, UWM is the only one with both a research mission and an access mission. Situated in one of the most segregated cities in the United States, UWM is the “urban access campus” of the UW System. UWM combines world-class doctoral research programs with an open door for students from the Milwaukee region and around the state, fulfilling the mission of the Wisconsin Idea: to extend the boundaries of the university to the boundaries of the state. No other Wisconsin institution puts all of this on a single campus.

UWM’s research mission is achieving unprecedented success: just last week, UWM joined the ranks of the “highest research activity,” or R1, universities in the Carnegie Classifications for the first time. UWM’s access mission is reflected in the fact that UWM educates the most Wisconsin residents, the most veterans, and the most students of color of any institution in the UW System.

Unfortunately, all of this is now at risk. Massive funding cuts, combined with destructive and unnecessary changes to tenure and shared governance, threaten to undermine UWM’s research mission and degrade the quality of the education that UWM’s students have access to. The campus now finds itself in an acute budget crisis, with major cuts to core functions looming. What is more, rumors have begun to swirl out of Madison: some Regents have suggested that the UW System cannot afford to support two research campuses.

UWM AAUP calls on the Board of Regents to affirm its support for UWM’s research mission via resolution at its upcoming meeting on March 10. We furthermore call on the Board of Regents to outline explicit steps for increasing funding to UWM, commensurate with our dual research and access missions and our newfound R1 status. UWM currently receives less than half the funding per student that our R1 peer, UW-Madison, receives from the UW System.

The Regents have a choice to make: UWM’s unique blend of research excellence and broad public access cannot survive under the present conditions of fiscal austerity.

[PDF]

Notes on Tenure Policy Task Force draft policies

UW AAUP Chapters (Madison, Milwaukee, Whitewater): Response to Tenure Policy Task Force draft policies on faculty layoff and post-tenure review, Dec 23, 2015

  • Post-tenure review: We remain unconvinced that these changes to existing post-tenure review would pass a benefit-cost test, particularly in light of the significant administrative overhead these procedures would entail and the lack of resources for professional development and recognition of merit. We draw attention to three specific issues:
    • 1) the term “reviewing individual” (12b-12f) is worrisome: review should be conducted by a body of faculty peers [see AAUP Minimum Standards for Good Practice If a Formal System of Post-Tenure Review is Established, #3];
    • 2) the faculty’s right to contest a review and correct the record should be through institutional grievance procedures or a secondary review committee [See AAUP Minimum Standards, #8], not through an appeal to the dean (12h);
    • 3) it should be made clear in 12g that “the standard for dismissal or other severe sanction remains that of adequate cause, and the mere fact of successive negative reviews does not in any way diminish the obligation of the institution to show such cause” [AAUP Minimum Standards, #10].  Effective language addressing these three concerns is already present in the recently adopted UW-Madison policies and procedures on post-tenure review (passed on Nov 2), which we suggest be used as a baseline for those adopted by the Regents.
  • Educational considerations: We believe that the draft policy on “Faculty Layoff for Reasons of Program Discontinuance” injects financial considerations into the definition of educational considerations to a worrying extent. If financial considerations are to be used as a factor in program discontinuance decisions, they should be supported by full openness and disclosure of financial documentation, as in cases of financial emergency. References to the relevant financial disclosure requirements from UWS 5 should be inserted into the section on program discontinuance.
  • Faculty in discontinued programs: The section on program discontinuance should include a provision stating that the institution will make every effort to place affected faculty in another suitable position, with the university funding retraining as necessary (see AAUP Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure, section 4(d)(3)).
  • Curtailment, modification, and redirection: The draft policy should contain an explicit injunction against using the Board’s statutory power to terminate or lay off faculty for budget or program decisions resulting in program curtailment, modification, or redirection. For example, paragraph 1 of the “Faculty Layoff for Reasons of Program Discontinuance” could be amended to include the following sentence: “Notwithstanding the authority granted to the Board of Regents under Wis. Stat. 36.22, no faculty member shall be laid off or terminated as the result of program curtailment, modification, or redirection for educational considerations.”
  • Timeline: The four-month timeline for moving from the Faculty Senate’s receipt of a program discontinuance proposal to the faculty committee recommendation (three months) and on to the chancellor’s recommendation (one additional month) is insufficient for serious, research-based decision-making taking into account either educational or financial considerations. The timeline for the faculty committee and chancellor’s recommendations should be increased significantly, e.g. to eight months and one year (i.e. four additional months), respectively, from the Faculty Senate’s receipt of a program discontinuance proposal.
  • Feasible alternatives: In the “Policy” preamble to the faculty layoff document, the word “considered” should be changed to “pursued” in the following sentence, to better reflect AAUP guidelines (AAUP RIR): “Accordingly, faculty layoff will be invoked only in extraordinary circumstances and after all feasible alternatives have been considered.”

Major Flaws in UW System Survey

The UW System is running an online survey this month to begin the second phase of its strategic planning process. Serious concerns have been raised about the design and implementation of the survey. As UWM Professor Emerita Nancy A. Mathiowetz explains in a letter to UWM Chancellor Mark Mone (reproduced below), the survey suffers from major flaws that make it impossible to draw reasonable conclusions from its results.

With Professor Mathiowetz’s permission, UWM AAUP is publishing her letter here in order to bring the survey’s problems to the attention of the Wisconsin public. We hope that the UW System will interpret the results of the current survey in the light of the objections raised here, and will adhere to the best practices outlined by Professor Mathiowetz in any future surveys it may conduct.

—————–

Dear Chancellor Mone,

I am writing to you today as a former member of the UWM faculty and as an expert in survey methodology to express my concern with the UW System’s online survey.

The survey suffers from two critical design flaws that render the data from the survey at best uninformative and at worst, completely misleading.  These design flaws include (1) a self-selected sample and (2) a poorly designed survey instrument.

The fundamental tenet that underlies statistical inference—that is, the ability to draw inferences from a sample survey to the full population—is the selection of a scientific sample.  With the UW System sample, there is no sample—just an open invitation for anyone to respond and to respond as often as he or she would like.  One cannot use the findings from this survey to project to any known population.  This is not my viewpoint alone—I quote below from the American Association for Public Opinion Research and from the Pew Research Center:

When we draw a sample at random—that is, when every member of the target population has a known probability of being selected—we can use the sample to make projective, quantitative estimates about the population. A sample selected at random has known mathematical properties that allow for the computation of sampling error. Surveys based on self-selected volunteers do not have that sort of known relationship to the target population and are subject to unknown, non-measurable biases. (AAPOR)

A non-probability sample is one in which it is impossible to determine the chance that any individual in the population was selected. Lacking this information, we are uncertain as to how well the sample represents the population, and thus how important a given finding based on such a sample actually is. (Pew)

The design of the UW System “survey” is even more egregious than one based simply on non-probability based sampling: the survey allows a user to input information multiple times.  And, due to the nature of an online survey, those without access to the Internet will be unable to participate in voicing their opinions.  The resulting data cannot be used to make generalizations about the views of citizens of the state of Wisconsin regarding priorities for the University.

In addition, the questions themselves are ill conceived to inform public policy makers.  Each of the five topic areas asks multiple questions related to that topic and for which the respondent is asked to rate the statement/idea on a five point scale, from “Not at all important” to “Extremely important.”  A rating scale is useless for setting policy priorities, since the respondent is not asked to make the difficult choice among priorities.  And in fact, the instructions to the respondent indicate that the goal is to determine which of the statements is most important to the respondent, but the actual survey task simply asks for ratings, not a ranking of most to least important.  A ranking approach to measurement would have required respondents to make the difficult decisions that are similar to those of policy makers—in a world of limited resources, what is the most important priority? And the redundancy of the task—29 questions, all using the same 5-point scale—does not motivate the respondent to think carefully about each of the items.

I note that the individual items are poorly worded; the language is vague and the respondent is not faced with real-world choices.  Consider for example the item “Train a highly skilled workforce.” How does this translate into an actionable item by the UW System?  The statement is sufficiently vague that interpretation is left up to the respondent and to the analyst of these data.  And how will the data be interpreted?  What does it mean to say that a respondent rated “Attract and retain top talent” as extremely important?  At what cost?  And talent with respect to teaching?  Research grants?  And let’s think about the reverse finding—what would it mean if 75% of the respondents rate this item as “not at all important”?

In addition to concerns with the design of the study, I urge you and the other administrators on the UW System campuses to request additional information concerning this study.  Who drafted the questionnaire?  Who will be responsible for the analysis of the data and dissemination of findings?  Will data be made available to the public for analysis?  What research goals will the survey data address?  What Institutional Review Board approved the design of this study?  I saw nothing on the web site or anything on the first page of the questionnaire that provided information with respect to contact information for the study director or the IRB office. No data collection effort supported by UWM would be allowed to be fielded without IRB approval and contact information for the study director.

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) lists the following standards for disclosure:

In accordance with minimum disclosure requirements of the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practice, every survey researcher should disclose each of the following elements in any report that is for public release, or be prepared to disclose this information promptly:

  • Name of the survey sponsor
  • Name of the organization that conducted the survey
  • The exact wording of the questions being released
  • A definition of the population under study.  What population is the survey designed to represent?
  • A description of the sampling frame used to represent this population
  • An explanation of how the respondents to the survey were selected
  • The total sample size
  • The method or mode of data collection
  • The dates and location of data collection
  • Estimates of sampling error, if appropriate
  • A description of how the data were weighted (or a statement that they were not weighted), and any estimating procedures used to produce the final results
  • If the survey reports findings based on parts of the sample rather than the total sample, then the size of the subgroups reported should be disclosed

I strongly urge you to voice your concerns with the content and sample design for this study.  The findings could be more harmful than helpful; the data will only be representative of the views of a self-selected, motivated segment of the population, responding to an ill conceived and poorly worded questionnaire.  If the UW System wishes to collect data from the citizens of the state, there are at least two well qualified academic survey research centers who could design and implement a study that would meet the standards of the survey research profession.

Please let me know if I can offer further assistance.

Warm regards,

Nancy A. Mathiowetz

Professor Emerita
2015 AAPOR Award Winner for Exceptionally Distinguished Service
2007-2008 AAPOR President
Fellow, American Statistical Association

On UW System Austerity and UWM’s Structural Deficit

Press Release: On UW System Austerity and UWM’s Structural Deficit
UWM AAUP
For Release: Monday, December 7 @ 4 pm
Press Conference: After UWM Budget Meeting (8:30 am, Tuesday 12/8), 9:30 am, Union Ballroom East, UWM

[PDF of press release available here]

Summary: The current crisis in the UW System disproportionately affects UWM, the only UW System campus with both research and access missions. Broad student access to UWM has been negatively impacted by inequitable funding from the state, and this in turn threatens the ability of UWM to serve the diverse Milwaukee community. UWM enrolls students from across metro Milwaukee and around the state, and serves 40% of the students of color enrolled in the UW System. Inadequate state allocations to UWM have yielded politically produced austerity, undercutting democratic access to public education in Milwaukee. This parallels many other forms of underfunding and downright abandonment of the state’s largest city.

UWM’s current structural deficit would be eliminated if the UW System increased UWM’s per-student funding allocation to just half the level that UW-Madison receives. UWM AAUP calls on the UW System, the UWM administration, and our elected representatives to ensure equitable support for UWM.

As the Chancellor’s Campus Organization and Effectiveness Team (CCOET) has set out to address the structural deficit at UWM, serious questions have been raised about whether the development and eventual implementation of the committee’s recommendations adhere to established shared governance practices. UWM AAUP would like to redirect attention to CCOET’s charge: the task of closing an ongoing annual budget deficit of $15-$20 million. This task has been presented to the campus community as urgent and necessary, its seriousness self-evident, its resolution the sole responsibility of UWM. Not closing the deficit—or demanding outside help in doing so—is, by implication, unthinkable.

Among the chief causes of UWM’s structural deficit is the institution’s chronic underfunding by the University of Wisconsin (UW) System. Each year, state appropriations are passed to the UW System for allocation to its 26 colleges and universities. As UWM has pursued its state-mandated dual missions of access and research, its per-student funding from the UW System has dropped below half that of its doctoral cluster peer, UW-Madison, which lacks an access mission. As Figure 1 shows, while UW-Madison receives more than $12,400 per student, UWM receives less than $5,200 per student.

UWM-Madison_perfte_wtotals

This underfunding is deplorable in light of UWM’s unique dual mission of access and research. UWM educates more Wisconsin residents than any other university, and 40% of the students of color in the UW System are enrolled at UWM.

For over a decade, increasing enrollments have allowed UWM to accommodate this structural inequality through growth. Now that UWM’s enrollments are impacted—in part by increased in-state admissions at UW-Madison—it is time for the UW System to address this ongoing inequity. The present crisis demands a direct remedy for the persistent inequality in funding that undermines the health and well being of the state’s most racially and socioeconomically diverse public university.

Approximately half of UWM’s structural deficit has already been addressed through the FY17 cuts proposed by the Budget Planning Task Force (base budget cuts of $14.5 million). UWM’s administration must demand that the remaining deficit be filled through increased funding from the UW System. If UWM’s per-student (FTE) funding from the UW System were increased to just half the level that UW-Madison receives, this would yield an additional $23.6 million allocation to UWM (at 2013-14 levels; see Figure 2). This is enough to eliminate the remaining structural deficit.

To repeat: increasing UWM’s per-student funding to just half of UW-Madison’s level would eliminate UWM’s remaining structural deficit.

UWM-Madison_total_wtotals

We recognize that funds are scarce across the UW system, and we know that faculty, students, and staff at other campuses have felt the pinch of recent cuts. But the acute nature of the present crisis at UWM requires immediate action.

Residents across Wisconsin understand the consequences of economic inequality, as they are increasingly locked out of essential opportunities. We call on UWM’s administration to do the supposedly unthinkable: to reject fiscal austerity. We call on the UW System, the Governor, and the Wisconsin State Legislature to protect and advance UWM’s vital research and access missions. A commitment to accessible, democratic public higher education in Wisconsin demands no less.