Connecting Engaged Scholarship with the Wisconsin Idea

Presentation and Panel Discussion

October 25, 2011

A Year of the Wisconsin Idea Event

Over the last quarter century, a national conversation about the societal relevance of higher education has gained considerable momentum. At the core of this dialogue lie the concepts of engagement and engaged scholarship, which call for universities to partner with their communities in addressing societal ills and creating positive change. A growing demand has emerged on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus for a public discussion of these issues, as symbolized by the ongoing Year of the Wisconsin Idea.

To contribute to this dialogue, three national engagement experts and a panel of UW–Madison scholars will lead a conversation surrounding the following question: “How can engaged scholarship help advance the Wisconsin Idea by reconciling UW–Madison’s competing obligations as both a land-grant and research intensive university?”

This public session is part of three-day series of events, entitled Reinvigorating the Wisconsin Idea: Engaged Scholarship for the 21st Century, designed to jump start a campus conversation about engaged scholarship at UW–Madison. Holding true to the principles of engagement, this program is intended to first capture the attention and focus of the campus community and thereby pave the way for future discussions with the public about community-campus collaboration.

Download a complete Program Agenda

Download Speaker Bios

This event is free, but please register online by October 18, 2011


The above announcement was posted on behalf of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE)

This entry was posted in The Wisconsin Idea, Uncategorized, Upcoming events. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Connecting Engaged Scholarship with the Wisconsin Idea

  1. Frank Rojas says:

    The idea that advancing knowledge is limited to the small pond that is Wisconsin is amusingly naive thinking. Today ideas travel and benefit the entire world in minutes. That old notion of somehow limiting ideas to the borders of the state is both quaint and clueless. There is virtually no idea that is just applicable to the state. The real important thing is to generate ideas and attract businesses that will give the state a reason to grow and prosper.
    Maybe that’s why I never got the whole “Wisconsin Idea” thing. Ideas that change the state are as likely to come from Cambridge or China as from Madison. And vice versa.
    Just let the UW be the best it can be and the rest will take care of itself. No meetings and grand statements needed.

  2. GP says:

    Frank, If you’re right, then maybe the solution is to shift to federally-funded rather than state-funded public universities. As I understand it at least, the Wisconsin Idea is premised on the reasonable (in my opinion) notion that if the state taxpayers are asked to fund the base operating expenses of a major research university, they’d like to see some concrete benefits accrue directly back to the state. And that also imposes an implicit obligation on a land-grant university to promote technology transfer and other kinds of outreach to benefit Wisconsin farmers, manufacturers, and businesses. Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but if the ideal of promoting that kind of symbiotic relationship is naive, then perhaps the whole idea of state universities is outmoded apart (at best) from their narrow role in granting subsidized degrees to the state’s citizens. Is that really ALL we want a land grant university to do for Wisconsin?

  3. Dave says:

    We can talk to ourselves til we’re blue in the face but it seems obvious that any real “reinvigorating” needs to start with public and legislative support for the university. Why not include Doyle or Walker or Nass or Vos or similar on the program agenda?

  4. Frank Rojas says:

    Dave, you know the answer. No politician be it R or D has done much to stem the downward funding trend for the UW since Fat Pat Lucey. It might pop up for a year or two but then it is all taken back–and more usually be it by a Doyle or Tommy or Scottie. To be realistic, unlike some certain UW profs, is to accept what will not change and plan accordingly. For Madison it has a few great advantages. People will pay MORE to come to it. Out of state kids/parents especially but even most instate too. They are selling a BMW at Chevy prices. Quit worrying about so much about tuition prices–in many similar states they have accepted far higher amounts without any more bellyaching than you already have in Wisconsin. Yet they keep coming in droves. More aid can be made part of the overall spending plan just as they did with the MIU.
    Second improve fundraising. Our support rate is pathetic at around 11% for Madison. It should be at 20%. Our totals are inflated by some accounting that masks how low it really is. UW still does a terrible job of marketing itself. Do what the fotoball team did last year–run up the score and shout “look at me”. Michigan does that relentlessly. I know it’s not the Wisconsin way to blow your own horn but learn and fast.
    $100 million more a year in tuition and and another $100 million in fundraising and you are getting somewhere and you can even fund some of the programs Prof G-Rab wants so much.

    Finally, the nuclear option–cut the ratio of instate students. If Wisconsin does not want to fund slots for their kids fine, they don’t have to. Just sell them to the kids from NJ, Chicago and California. Given the recent cuts, the OOS should be bumped by 1000 students for every $25 million in cuts. Sorry Wisconsin–you only get what you pay for. The UW Madison cannot keep giving you a free lunch forever. And you don’t even seem to appreciate it. If the state wants to cut funding to 0 from the current $400 Million or whatever it is now fine. All students now pay $25,000 tuition just like at Marquette and we”ll set some aside for fin aid. $25k per head gives the UW $1 Billion which is more than the sum of current state funding and total tuition collected now I believe. Everybody is happy and faculty gets raises.

  5. Frank Rojas says:

    BTW a prof at Illinois pretty much agrees–get used to no more (and likely less) money from the state. Santa Claus not coming back.

  6. Dave says:

    Frank – You are right, in particular “Sorry Wisconsin – you only get what you pay for”. I think we’re all angry but accepting reality and dealing with it is what’s needed. So much for the Wisconsin Idea though.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Is this event a joke, or are our campus leaders really so out of touch with the world around them? According to the WISCAPE Web site, “the recent reaccreditation process identified the need for the university to reinvigorate its engagement with the public through the Wisconsin Idea.” The university’s idea of starting to “engage” is having “three national engagement experts” and UW-scholars pontificate about “engagement” in a panel(!) discussion? And the purpose of this exchange among “experts” is “to pave the way for future discussions with the public.”

    How much more condescending and insular can you get? Why are members of Wisconsin communities not part of the discussion from day one? Why are there no “community experts” on the panel? Or even better: why doesn’t the University schedule a few panels in public places (public libraries are great!) around the state? That would be a great first step towards “engagement.” Equally dismaying is that the organizers of this event seem to leave out the arts and humanities on this campus, where a lot of engagement with communities is already taking place.

  8. LDL says:

    It is hilarious that Frank directs us to listen to an assistant professor who left UW untenured and after just 2 years. She has it “right” based on what? She’s hardly even published.

  9. GP says:

    Frank, I’m trying to understand why you and other alumni who apparently remain deeply interested in the future of UW-Madison are, on the one hand, so vocal about telling us how to prepare for tighter funding but, on the other hand, so completely AWOL in the fight for MORE funding. The same was true of your hero, Biddy Martin who, to my knowledge, never once took the case to either the public or the legislature that UW-Madison was a state treasure worthy of more generous support. One can only surmise that you, Biddy, and perhaps the WAA are all afflicted with the same privatization fetish as Walker and his corporate sponsors. If you disagree, then I’d be interested in hearing more about what really motivates you to keep coming back to this site from five states away and regularly taking jabs at those of us who continue to care about PUBLIC higher education.

  10. Nik Hawkins says:

    I am happy to see that this post sparked some debate. At this point, I feel I must weigh in on the conversation, specifically in response to comments posted by Anonymous.

    The sentiments expressed in your criticism were discussed at length, I assure you, by the planning committee for this event (of which I am a part). But let me be clear that this is merely the start of broader, longer conversation, one that will most assuredly include a diverse array of community members.

    Due to limited time and resources, the committee chose to focus this kick-off event on the campus itself. (I do not speak for the committee; this is my take on the matter). We also agreed that our campus lacks a shared understanding of and appreciation for engaged scholarship, and we felt it necessary to start making steps toward this before broadening the conversation. Essentially, we felt we needed to get our own house in order before inviting our neighbors inside. This is what is meant by “paving the way for future discussions.” As such, we settled on three overarching goals for this INITIAL event:

    1. Increase awareness of the definition of “engaged scholarship” and its integration with research, teaching, and service.

    2. Promote reflection upon how engaged scholarship relates to the Wisconsin Idea and is realized at UW–Madison.

    3. Initiate a conversation about how we recognize, evaluate, and reward engaged scholarship at the departmental, school, and college levels, and within divisional committees.

    That said, we did take care to promote this public presentation and panel to members of the surrounding community. It is also important to note that this is part of a three-day event in which these experts will be consulting with students, staff, and faculty across campus on a variety of issues related to engaged scholarship.

    The Year of the Wisconsin Idea lasts throughout the 2011-2012 academic year, and this conversation will continue–with community partners. Anonymous, you seem extremely passionate about this topic, and I for one would love to hear your ideas for how we can advance this conversation. Please contact me (265-6636,

    Final point: the importance of the public humanities–and efforts undergone by the Center for the Humanities, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, and Imagining America–in this movement is not lost on us. In fact, these efforts are greatly appreciated, and if you have ideas for collaboration, I would hear them.

    Please keep in mind we are only a relatively small group of people, and we make no claims that we can think of everything. Constructive criticism and assistance from others are much appreciated.


    Nik Hawkins
    Assistant Director for Communications

  11. Frank Rojas says:

    “She’s hardly even published”. So is she wrong?? Well neither is anyone a mile up the street in the Capitol and they don’t really give two craps about publications other than the newspapers. 1st thing you need to do is stop assuming you know much of anything that matters. Because when it comes to the public you obviously don’t and have the worst tin ear to politics imaginable. I am not afflicted by a privatization fetish. I am afflicted with reality. Virtually no state government has listened to any such appeal from higher ed and given more money than they planned to give. In Washington the UW cried and begged and got bupkis. But they did get the right to raise tuition as much as they wanted and they went for around 20% plus. And Washington seems to value higher ed more than Wisconsin as of late. You rarely see articles and politicians savaging the Udub here. But they still got whacked. Same in Virginia where I also live part-time. People actually seem to like and respect UVa but they are not giving it any more money than around 10 years ago.

    What Biddy Martin WAS able to do was to at least come to some sort of understanding with Walker that if I am getting whacked at least make it worthwhile. Now you have the feckless and clueless Reilly who nobody seems to like that matters carrying the ball. Good luck. “Agenda for Greater Wisconsin” or whatever that DOA idea was called.

    So why not beg for more money–because it has not worked–not with Doyle, or Tommy– not with anyone much since Pat Lucey screwed over the UW back in the day. You might get a bone tossed that will be removed as soon as money comes in below expectations. You think Walker invented lapse? I am pretty sure Lucey used that one. You need a new business model.

    As long as UW faculty and the few supporters cling to that idea that somebody up the street has a pot of money just waiting for the magic words to be said–well as we say in Jersey– fergettaboutit. It’s like the scene in “Lost in America” where they ask the casino for their money back. Not going to happen in any way that matters. The best you can do is negotiate a new financing plan that works and does the least harm while maintaining UW’s status as a top public. I won’t bother going into why that’s important but it IS. Trust me.

    I have my ideas which basically follow the model of other schools that have been down this road or are joining us. If Wisconsin won’t pay for it they don’t get it. That’s the new Wisconsin idea. All the touting of accomplishments and what the UW does for the state has fallen on deaf ears for many decades. pretty much sine they announced the Wisconsin Idea. Only some UW folks even care about that goofy concept. You say you don’t want to UVa’ize the UW. Well then get ready to University of Nebraska-ize it. Next they’ll be kicking you out of the AAU.
    And even if you get rid of Walker things won’t change much. Might as well get adjusted to the future now. Unless they find oil and or gold under the farmlands like North Dakota/Wyoming. I hear they are hiring profs like mad.

  12. GP says:

    Frank, taking your idea to its logical conclusion, it would seem that the best course of action is to simply cut all ties to the state, stop counting on them for any support whatsoever, and go completely private. Or where do you draw the line? Right now we’ve got the worst of both worlds — rapidly dwindling state support but the wrath of lawmakers coming down on us if we raise tuition. There was an article I read somewhere in the past couple of days (I don’t have the link handy) that points out that lawmakers in many states are cutting support to their universities but then getting righteously indignant — and “punishing” the university with further cuts — when the university tries to make up the difference with higher tuition. In short, blaming the universities for their necessary response to the lawmakers own decisions. Seems like a recipe for complete privatization, which is possibly exactly what these people want and have been aiming for all along, but it’s too radical to just come right out and say it. Next thing you know, they’ll want state-funded vouchers for “charter universities” that compete with whatever public higher ed still exists. Hey, maybe Wisconsin can get its own Liberty University. Or maybe what Wisconsinites really want is just glorified trade schools.

    You seem to want UW-Madison to do well despite the political and ideological trend. So please tell me, what, in your opinion, IS the value of UW-Madison beyond a mere jobs training program, and how DOES one effectively communicate that value to those who are currently running the asylum? Or is it just completely hopeless? And do you too think that a university education is solely about getting a better-paying job?

  13. GP says:

    I remember now that the article I mentioned was actually posted by Frank in another thread.

  14. Frank Rojas says:

    I want to preseve as much of the current UW as actually possible. That means first, keeping the faculty as much as possible–especailly those with research funding. We will have to look at some depts that are nice but were often built on funding that is going away. We cannot continue to have 70 languages if the Fed support for many of them goes away.
    Actually maybe that voucher idea is the best for the UW. State pays in $10,000/head and they get a seat and the student pays the other $10,000 or whatever works. The state also pays for any extras–Med School slots-$100K each. And so on. That way it’s a nice clean business deal and all that gnashing and wailing about how many kinds of pens they buy–they can just go suck an egg ( although I am sure they will still want to do audits and expose such waste< whatever) . No matter if we do go to a voucher system or just keep getting our dwindling share it HAS to be tied right to students seats. If UW can maintain its name through this they can fill more seats with out of state students. Whatever the ratio works out to be 40%, 50%. The people have spoken and they don't want what UW has to offer because they do not value it much at all. They NEVER really did according to my reading of the histroy of the UW. At best they allowed it to exist as long as it did not cost too much or create disturbances. The fact that many of them are morons who rather be drunk notwithstanding.
    And career services and advising should be top priorities. Kids can major in whatever but they get a piece of paper showing their real prospects after graduation. They decide if it's worth $100K to major in art history knowing their first job will pay $12/hr. I am not very optimistic on the market for college grads over the next 10 years. It will be a lost decade for many kids getting out now. They will never recover. After that many of us boomers will retire finally and open up some jobs. But they will probably only replace half of us and leave the rest to a harder working few.

    I am certain that the job market will be more elite driven than it is now. Kids with degrees from third tier schools will be even worse off. Those from Top 20 will be fine and make more money than even today because we will be a nation of finance and paper movers. UW will have to fight like mad to maintain a place in the second tier of the elite or plan on supplying the next generations of franchise managers, public employees and accountants.

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