Dear President Cross and UW Board of Regents:
On Friday, May 20, the University of Wisconsin Colleges Faculty Council of Senators held a special meeting to consider a “Resolution on the Actions of President Cross and the Board of Regents.” The council voted 11-5-1 to endorse the resolution, affirming “NO CONFIDENCE in President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents’ commitment to defend the Wisconsin Idea and extend the benefits of the University to every citizen in the state.”
Ultimately, we believe this resolution should communicate several important points. First, UW Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and multiple comprehensive institutions have expressed – through their own resolutions of no confidence – their deep dissatisfaction with the sweeping changes to the process and policies under which the System operates. It has been easy to assume that this dissatisfaction is held only by members of our Research 1 and highly selective institutions in the state. What this resolution should demonstrate to you is that this dissatisfaction is held widely, throughout the state, from Sheboygan to Richland Center to Marinette to Wausau to Washington County. The UW Colleges is the third-largest UW institution in the state, made up of 13 campuses from Marinette County to Barron County to Waukesha County, with approximately 13,000 students starting their first two years of college at our campuses. We are not paid luxuriously – 85% of tenure-line faculty hold terminal degrees and yet the starting salary of a UW Colleges faculty member – with a terminal degree in the field–is $43,000 annually.
The full-time faculty teaching load is four sections per semester – 12 credits – with course caps from 24 to 38 students, meaning most full time faculty teach at least 100 first and second year students each semester. The deep dissatisfaction held by all types of UW system campuses – research intensive, highly selective as well as teaching-intensive, and open access – should emphasize that the changes that have been described by President Cross as ‘nominal’ and ‘not that important to faculty and staff” in fact threaten our core values as a System, and their erosion is significant.
Further, the gutting of the UW budget in the last biennium, again, also drives this resolution. UW Colleges students are largely first-generation, many Pell-grant eligible, and from all corners of the state. Our current academic advising ratio is 533 to 1, after budget reduction exercises required we cut 100 positions from our 13 campuses, largely academic and university staff. As our resolution indicates, we are deeply committed to the mission and integrity of the University of Wisconsin and of the Wisconsin Idea. These changes to Regent policy and the drastic slashing of the UW budget have fundamentally compromised our ability to fulfill this mission.
We ask that the Board of Regents and UW system administration recommit themselves as advocates for the Wisconsin Idea and the mission of the UW System. And we call upon the Wisconsin legislature and the Wisconsin citizenry to restore its commitment to public higher education in the state.
Holly Hassel, Chair, Senate Steering Committee
On behalf of the UW Colleges Faculty Council of Senators