The dead parrot has finally fallen off its perch.

Three weeks ago, S&W contributor Joe Salmons shared his conviction, apparently based on his conversations with key lawmakers, that Public Authority was already dead.

Despite that spreading belief, which was also shared by Paul Fanlund of the Capital Times and others, lobbying for the NBP continued unabated, with one observer likening the Public Authority to Monty Python’s dead parrot.

Subsequently, the “compromise” proposal was floated that UW-Madison remain within the System but get its own Board of Trustees, an idea that was sharply criticized by almost everyone who knew anything about it, including former UW-Madison adminstrator Harry Peterson.

A report this afternoon by the Cap Times’ Todd Finkelmeyer seems to make the deaths of both the Public Authority and the two-boards proposal official:

Walker’s plan to split off UW-Madison is dead

With that news,  the closing comments from Joe Salmon’s May 5 post seem worth reposting:

Whether you are profoundly disturbed or greatly relieved by this, we need to acknowledge that this is where things stand. And we need to think about what we’ll do when it’s officially dead and buried. I’d suggest things like these:

  • Heal the divisions on campus. We have allowed ourselves to be terribly divided and cannot afford it at this critical moment. Let’s rally around our shared commitment to top-quality, affordable, accessible public higher education and move forward.
  • Work to make amends with System,  not just to get back the extra $30 million cut that Madison would take with public authority, but just to live within System after what’s happened.
  • Work for changes that are most valuable to us and consistent with top-quality, affordable and accessible public higher education. Some of the ‘flexibilities’ that drove the New Badger Partnership are possible with or without changes to state law.
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17 Responses to The dead parrot has finally fallen off its perch.

  1. Frank says:

    The faculty and staff of UW-Madison must recognize that the whole discussion about the New Badger Partnership (NBP) and the Public Authority (PA) has been much ado about nothing. Prior to the conception of the NBP and the PA, UW-Madison was the number one public research university. It still is! This whole wasteful discussion has changed nothing; Madison is still the only university to have remained in the top five for research expenditures for 20 consecutive years. The idea that the sky will fall because we didn’t get public authority status is absurd and pernicious. The idea that faculty will now be heading for the exits is a myth expounded by the PA proponents trying to save a bad, bad idea. We can’t let the damaging NBP/PA narrative become reality. UW-Madison is the same institution it was pre-NBP/PA. Sure we took a big budget cut, but name a public university that didn’t. Ok, sure, North Dakota, those who want to head there can enjoy the Red River in the spring.

    Despite the cuts and the failure of the NBP/PA, it is critical that we redouble our efforts and pull together to maintain our productivity and quality in teaching, research and service. That is what we do.

    A modern civil society without great public universities is unthinkable.

  2. Grant says:

    “A modern civil society without great public universities is unthinkable.”

    True. Unfortunately, the future of our “modern civil society” seems far from assured.

  3. A badger not a weasel says:

    I agree with Frank on this.

  4. Crazy Harry says:

    The plan died because the Jim Doyle Board of Regents — the same group of idiots that sat silently as Diamond Jim slashed the UW System Budget in all four of his lousy Budget bills — ordered the other Chancellors to sit down and shut up.

    This is not a cause for celebration, folks, and anyone who thinks so needs his or her head examined.

    Also, I wouldn’t put too much faith in a story written with a single source, and especially the source used for this story.

  5. Joe Salmons says:

    It’s been highly likely since way back in March some time that this proposal was not going to fly, and opposition has simply hardened. I didn’t write about it until I was pretty sure of that and started thinking about the aftermath.

    Two simple points:

    (1) The notion that the Regents killed this is — I guess aptly, given who the comment came from — just plain crazy. The opposition from people around the state has been huge and it’s grown over time. That’s who the legislators are listening to. If Crazy Harry has evidence that chancellors were pressured, I’d love to hear it, but I actually talk to people beyond UW-Madison and what I’ve heard indicates clearly that nobody needed to be pressured. (And before anybody even raises the even more ludicrous point: People on the UW-Madison had and could have basically no role in the outcome in either direction.) But that game is over now and this has become a point of history.

    (2) This is definitely not a cause for celebration for anybody. We’ve been through a terrible, damaging process here that has cost us dearly in terms of time, energy and resources at a moment when we had/have other pressing work to do. As I argued earlier, and as is quoted in this post, we have to pull together now and focus on the way forward.

    The real work, and it’s hard work, is starting right now.

  6. Daniel Bush says:

    Three questions to consider: 1) Are folks on campus going to continue fighting this particular battle all summer and into next year? 2) How does Madison repair its relationships with the other campuses? 3) What’s next for Biddy Martin, given she’s gone all-in and lost?

  7. Starved for Information says:

    Serious questions. My 2 cents:

    (1) Folks on campus haven’t really fought this battle, if you mean the push for public authority. A lot of the press has been more or less astroturf. The main thing, I suspect, is for people who don’t really understand the full deal (and that seems to be a tiny number) not to panic. Frank is right (see above) that the sky is not going to fall. A lot of people are saying what Joe did, namely that the fight is over the bigger picture: accessible, quality public higher ed. We’re eternally fighting that.

    (2) Utterly key question. Some faculty are working to build better ties to faculty leaders at other campuses, I know, and I hope that there are direct talks between faculty and System. But it won’t be easy to repair the damage done over the last six months.

    (3) She’ll be able to afford to put food on the table and a roof over her head, no matter what, I imagine, so I’m not too concerned about her. But there has to be real doubt at this point about whether she can effectively lead UW-Madison after this debacle. Will there be calls for her to resign now?

  8. Crazy Harry says:

    Joe, Joe, Joe! You aren’t thinking this through! Open your mind and listen.

    Kevin Reilly and the Regents decided that this was a bad idea and they were determined to kill it. Kill it they did, apparently. No open discussion among the Chancellors or the other local campus constituents was permitted.

    What’s the evidence? Not sure if you attended or listened to the “special” meeting of the Board of Regents which was held in Madison the Friday before the Budget was introduced. (What was the purpose in holding the meeting four days before the actual Budget language was released? To flog Chancellor Martin, of course! This was the first and only miscalculation that Reilly & Co. made — holding the meeting in Madison, on the Madison campus, where the crowd greeted the Chancellor with a standing ovation when she entered the room as well as after she finished speaking!)

    In the afternoon, the other Chancellors were each permitted to speak. If you listen to the tape, roughly half of them were supportive of the concept, to varying degrees.

    That was the last open discussion permitted. Reilly & Co. prepared their flimsy “plan” and told the mininions in the hinterland to sell it. Chancellors and Regents went on the road, holding press events, speaking to stacked groups on their campuses, etc.

    If you aren’t following me yet, listen to Regent Loftus lecture the Chancellors at the Platteville meeting!

    My point: Without the direction from Reilly and the Regents, there would have been no opposition — had they been willing to discuss the proposal with open minds, a different result might have occurred.

    I lost a lot of respect for Reilly in this process. What has been accomplished on his watch? Various Governors and Legislatures have taken hundreds of millions of dollars from the UW System durning his tenure. Beyond being an ineffective cheerleader for the System, where has he actually LED?

    Ditto with the Regents, who let Diamond Jim Doyle raid the treasury four times. Why didn’t they develop a strategy to adapt to the changing environment? Regent Walsh’c best friend is Diamond Jim. Last session the planets were all arranged to make fundamental change — Doyle could propose and a compliant legislature would have fallen in line.

    The hard truth is that these people have no ideas, no vision, no plan. Biddy had a plan, the Governor bought it, and then they had to react. They reacted predictably, given their limited abilities and intellects.

    The battle may have been lost but the war will continue. Shortly the Governor will name some new Regents. The people who believe that Walker can do nothing right will be shocked to learn that the nominees are not zealots. Once they begin showing up at Regent meetings, an honest conversation can begin at long last. Kevin Reilly will start to count heads and the dim bulb will come on.

    Change is in the wind. The Madison campus and the entire System will all be the better for it.

  9. Crazy Harry says:

    “Will there be calls for her to resign now?”

    Another dumb observation! Chancellor Martin has 100% support from the governing bodies of WARF, the UW Foundation, and the Wisconsin Alumni Association. They have her back.

    If you think that this is the end of the public authority discussion you are seriously deluded.

  10. Frank says:

    Ditto Crazy Harry. This is but one skirmish in a long war–the war to maintian the quality and international reputation of the UW-Madison over those both within and outside the System who do not respect or support that goal. Reilly is a cipher who has yet to promote an idea that did not originate at UW Madison. The Regents is a chowder society where most have little clue about higher education outside some narrow band of whatever spaecial interest they represent. I have heard from very good sources that the lack of engagement and good questions from the BOR is indeed amazing and scary/sad.

    UW Madison will march on doing what it does pretty much no matter what Reilly, the BOR or anyone else in the state thinks. The people who count and can support it are well educated and have money. They know that the UW Madison has less in common with UW Oshkosh than it does with UCLA and U Michigan etc. And they will work to maintain that reality.

  11. Sara Goldrick-Rab says:

    The first comment by “Frank” was clearly not the usual Frank on this blog. It was a (smart) impostor. The second one was the usual guy.

    Crazy Harry, that’s an awful lot of accusations made by somebody not willing to identify himself.

  12. Crazy Harry says:

    Sara, what did I say that’s not true? By the way, during my time on campus, I never had a professor call himself or herself “Doctor.” This is a title most often used on campuses where holding the academic union card is the exception and not the rule. What gives? My two-year old has a sore throat. Should I bring her in to see you tomorrow?

  13. Frank says:

    “Steve Nass opposes WIP in this bill and blames @Biddy_Martin’s rancorous behavior for making it hard to get good info on key issues”

    Sara G-R on Twitter today.

    Now Sara is in bed with the all-time UW hater in history–Steve Nass. Her hatred toward Biddy Martin appears to have become virulent.

  14. Frank says:

    Happy day for UW Madison alums and supporters. Madison gets most of the freedoms it wanted and UW System remains as one in name if not in practice as Madison is now has control of itself in most key areas including budgeting and faculty issues. Tuition control not granted but there are more ways around that so not a huge deal and they retain control of out of state tuition which drives the big $$$$s anyway. Not to mention the sweet smell of $31 million. Sara can spin this any way her hateful little heart wants but none of this would have happened without Biddy Martin seizing the initiative while the System stuck to something called ?????. Nobody even knows the program they were initially pushing in the Budget to get more money for more students, etc–like that was ever going to happen. Talk about DOA. (BTW it was called the UW Growth Agenda–heard of that lately??)

  15. Starved for Information says:

    Wait a minute: Doesn’t the end result look more like the WIP than public authority?

  16. Crazy Harry says:

    Starved, you have to read the actual motion adopted by Joint Finance. The Madison campus gets control of its own HR and payroll plan without having to go through the UW System. UW-Stevens Point, on the other hand, can only get this control through delegation from the UW System. This is a significant advantage for the Madison campus — no more kow-towing to the lords at the top of Van Hise Hall.

    The motion also lays out a virtual blueprint for the Madison campus to obtain autonomy via the mandated study.

    Also, you need to back up and take a look at the bigger picture. Who delivered the flexiblity? Was it Reilly and the Regents working the Capitol to get it? Hell no — they had no plan until Biddy worked her plan into the Governor’s Budget. The System was nowhere until she showed up. Reilly & Co. claim they were for “flexibility” all along, but how come they never asked for it from Governor Doyle, who appointed all of the Regents and who they surely should have had some influence with. While Doyle was sucking money out of the UW System Budget in his four Budget bills, how come these folks didn’t press him even once for flexibility? How come their only reaction to the Doyle cuts was — “Thank you Governor! Hit me again!”

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