As noted in a recent post, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch asserts that Public Authority would bring “a free-market approach to the university system similar to that of a corporate business.”
Ideologically, Huebsch is (by his own admission) joined at the hip with Scott Walker, so we can safely take this as an authoritative statement of what the governor’s office really wants for UW-Madison.
The Public Authority may be legislatively dead (or at least on ice), but we would do well to keep Scott Walker’s ultimate objectives in mind as we contemplate any “gifts” offered to UW-Madison and/or the UW System by the GOP-controlled state government.
And we would do especially well to study the example of Texas, where the struggle for ideological control of two university systems is coming to a head, as described in an exceptionally disturbing report by the Chronicle of Higher Education
In case you don’t have a Chronicle subscription, here’s just a taste of what we learn:
The influence of a conservative movement that would apply a greater business orientation to Texas higher education came into stark relief this week, when the chancellor of one of the state’s university systems [Michael D. McKinney, Texas A&M University] unexpectedly resigned and the other seemed to push back against regents who have embraced what some call a heavy-handed ideological agenda.
Dr. McKinney has provided no reasons for his retirement, but The Dallas Morning News, citing anonymous sources close to the chancellor, reported Wednesday that Dr. McKinney was forced out for not being “assertive” enough in carrying out the foundation’s ideas, which have been embraced by Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, and some of the regents he appointed.
In the current political climate in Wisconsin, the institutions and traditions that protect us from going the way of Texas are fragile indeed.
Complacency is not an option. Resignation is not an option. Wishful thinking is not an option.
Vigilance, and bold defense of academic freedom and of the unique Wisconsin tradition of true shared governance, are how we will preserve the qualities that make UW-Madison unique in the world.