Archive for the ‘The University Budget’ Category

The dead parrot has finally fallen off its perch.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

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: (more…)

Commentary on the creation of a separate governing board for the UW-Madison while UW-Madison remains within the UW System Administration

Friday, May 20th, 2011

[The following article was provided to legislators this week by Dr. Harry Peterson.  It is reproduced here with his permission.  – Ed.]

I understand that there is no significant legislative support to break away the UW-Madison from the UW System and provide the UW-Madison its own governing board.  I have been told that a “compromise” approach would provide a governing board for the UW-Madison and have that university remain in the UW System.

I do not know with whom such a “compromise” would be struck, but, this idea fails badly and is seriously flawed.  (more…)

Nailed to its perch

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Please, I beg you, stop talking about public authority as if it were still viable. It’s DEAD, really truly dead. And people are finally saying as much in print. Paul Fanlund, for instance, writes in today’s CapTimes:

Martin adamantly rejects that her version [= public authority]  is doomed. “It is not my impression that legislative support is minimal,” she wrote in answer to that assertion. “I believe legislators are continuing to consider the issues and debate different possibilities,” claiming “significant momentum over the past weeks.”

Well, I’ve been looking for legislators who support Martin’s plan as written. I’m still looking.

He concludes that it’s “time to punt”. That’s gently put.

Are we going to see the Chancellor searching her Bascom office (maybe in the next Zooniversity video?) like Bush did in the Oval Office for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? No, I know what it reminds me of … Monty Python‘s dead parrot routine. I wish to register a complaint about public authority. This plan is dead. It’s stone dead. Definitely deceased. It’s passed on. It is no more. It’s expired and gone on to meet its maker.

Can we get on to the real work now, like trying to save the extra $30 million base budget cut we’re taking under this scheme?

Huebsch: NPB “would bring a free-market approach to the university”

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Just when we’re fretting about the apparent dismantling of academic freedom and shared governance at Florida State and other universities as these institutions openly sell their curricula to wealthy corporate donors,  Sara Goldrick-Rab over at Education Optimists tips us off to recent comments by Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch.

Here’s the key passage:

… Mike Huebsch says he and Gov. Scott Walker remain hopeful that the guv’s proposed split of UW-Madison from the rest of the university system will pass.

Speaking in Brookfield Wednesday at a gathering of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, he told the group it would bring a free-market approach to the university system similar to that of a corporate business. [emphasis added]

I now have two burning questions for Chancellor Biddy Martin, for our Faculty Senate,  and for other prominent and enthusiastic supporters of the public authority plan:

  1. Do you have any plausible basis whatsoever for doubting Huebsch’s characterization of the public authority plan as regards the actual intentions of those who inserted it into the budget bill?
  2. Do you support this vision for UW-Madison?

If you answer “no” to both questions, then the most obvious interpretation is that your endorsement of Scott Walker’s public authority plan reflected a grave lapse in judgment and due diligence on your part.

I look forward to hearing the arguments for a more generous interpretation.



Will flexibility to retain star faculty create downward salary pressure for everyone else?

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Some of the recent statements for support for NBP come from stars among our faculty. It is no secret that the major reason to seek more flexibility is to meet the challenges in keeping the stars from moving to greener pastures. The competitive compensation plans to stay in the market for stars puts an upward pressure on the salaries of stars, while simultaneously exerting a downward pressure on the salaries of others, particularly exacerbated when you bring in equity considerations.

Let us not forget that while excellence and scholarship among our stars is beyond question, there is large segment among us who are silently sifting and winnowing for truth outside the limelight, working on unpopular ideas. It is the freedom to pursue such efforts that our tenure is supposed to guarantee. (more…)

State Journal guest editorial: NBP arguments “vague”, “elitist”.

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Daniel Bush, an alumnus of both UW-Madison and UW-Oshkosh, has written a guest editorial for today’s issue of the Wisconsin State Journal:

Vague argument, elitist attitude hurt UW-Madison autonomy plan

It seems unlikely that Mr. Bush reads Sifting and Winnowing, yet he concisely and  eloquently raises many of the same concerns about both the goals of the NBP, and the process by which it is being sold, that have been voiced by a variety of  contributors to this page  and elsewhere (e.g., Education Optimists) over the past few weeks.

In his closing remarks, he appropriately takes NBP advocates/salespersons/lobbyists to task for both their politically tone-deaf elitism and their failure to promote a healthier and more balanced discussion of UW-Madison’s options: (more…)

Here’s what dependence on donors looks like

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

One of the cornerstones of the public authority proposal that Chancellor Biddy Martin has been pushing with all her might (in contrast to, say, her non-existent campaign for greater public support of the university) is the assumption that we would be able to count on greater donor contributions to patch holes in the budget.

This Bloomberg article documents how that model has worked out for other universities, and it’s not a pretty picture:

Schools Find Ayn Rand Can’t Be Shrugged as Donors Build Courses

If you support the public authority and believe that private donations will be an important source of new revenue, please explain to the rest of us how we will avoid the same fate. Or at least explain why we should embrace that fate.

Either way, it’s past time for more honesty, more facts, more figures, less wishful thinking, and fewer empty platitudes.

– GP

What I WILL fight for

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Am I the only one who’s noticed how the twisted logical foundation of the campaign for public authority? If you press people, it goes like this:

The state is steadily defunding us and that’s simply inevitable, so the only thing we can do is accept even more draconian cuts in exchange for some modest leeway in managing our own resources. That’s the best we can do and we have to fight for it.

Smart, engaged people on campus are arguing vigorously and explicitly for just this position, if mostly only in the echo chamber of the campus. And the chancellor is spending most of her time and a ton of resources and staff time to push this, not to mention the help of the mysteriously-funded Badger Advocates. She and her staff are incessantly begging us to do the same. (more…)

Two grad students contemplate how the NBP and public authority could lead to bad things

Friday, May 6th, 2011

The following was originally posted as a Facebook note.  In the interest of including more student perspectives on the NBP, it is reposted here with the permission of both contributors.

Alyson S. writes:

Consider people’s attitudes with regards to “saving” and being fiscally responsible. Then check out this article, and especially this paragraph:

Widener, R-Springfield, told the AP he has met with university presidents and financial officers as well as state Chancellor Jim Petro about his findings. His concern is that some institutions are holding almost a year’s worth of expenses in their accounts, even as state budget writers are poised to allow them to raise tuition by as much as 3.5 percent. (more…)

The aftermath: What do we do next?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

I’m surprised by the energy still going into debates about public authority for UW-Madison, assuming that it’s going to happen. Recent media reports (and posts to this site) make pretty clear that public authority is extremely close to dead, and that it’s being killed by deep and broad opposition among  members of the legislature. The most informed person I know in matters of Wisconsin politics told me yesterday that public authority was “definitely long odds, at best.” Instead of pushing public authority and split from the System, key legislators will tell you point blank that we need to find a way to get flexibilities while staying within System.

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.

Joe Salmons