One area in which both the proponents and opponents of public authority status (not actually the same as the New Badger Partnership) have been curiously silent is on undergraduate enrollment controls. Board of regents policy requires that UW-Madison maintain an enrollment of roughly 75% Badgers (including Gophers) and 25% out-of-state students. Will this same split be required by the proposed board of trustees? The chancellor has promised that the number of places for Wisconsin students won’t be reduced, but has said nothing about whether the percentages will change.
For many years, unwritten campus policy has limited the number of students on the UW-Madison campus to around 41,000. Will the trustees also support that limit? Don’t know! It is well known that Chancellor Martin was open to significantly increasing the number of undergrads on the Madison campus in response to President Riley’s initiative to create more college graduates for Wisconsin.
The chancellor has also stated that tuition will not be allowed to skyrocket, yet it is quite clear that under the public authority the State of Wisconsin will never again contribute to a pay plan for UW-Madison employees. How are we then to remain competitive on a global basis, the rationale for the public authority as proclaimed by the chancellor?
Let’s take the chancellor at her word; 1) no reduction in the number of places for Wisconsin students, 2) tuition won’t skyrocket, 3) maintain global competitiveness of UW-Madison.
How can these three things be accomplished? It is so simple, you must have seen this coming, just drop the 75% rule (the chancellor has been silent on this). Increase each incoming class by 1000 out of state students. After four years we will have increased the student body by 10%, and our yearly revenue by 4,000 students x ~$25,000 tuition ($100,000,000 in increased revenue!). Brilliant! Problem solved! Everyone will be happy! Or will they? (For one answer, see UW Gives Us What We Ask For)
Where will four thousand additional students live (in dorms privatized by the new board of trustees?) and how will the influx affect access to critical classes and time to degree? If 25% of these students are interested in biology, where are the seats in intro bio or organic chemistry? I would be interested to know if the chair of chemistry, who supports the public authority or perhaps simply the New Badger Partnership (I never get those straight) knows where he will put these students. And who will advise these extra students (by all accounts we’re not doing a great job now)?
Will we as a campus be willing to accept that more students might not be able to achieve their goals, more students might well be here for five or six years, or more students might never graduate? This campus has worked long and hard to provide a first class education to our students, to increase access, and decrease time to graduation. It will be a great shame if we forfeit this in a paroxysm of short term self aggrandizement.
Colleagues, this is the simple arithmetic. The numbers just don’t come out otherwise, we cannot increase salaries (face it, that is what this is about, and no matter how many students we add, UW will never match salaries at Harvard or Stanford), without massive instate student tuition increases or dramatically increasing out of state students numbers. If we go the route of the public authority there is just no other way. This is what the public authority looks like and it isn’t pretty.