On a recent visit to UW-Green Bay, the president of the University of Wisconsin System, Ray Cross, sat down with WLUK-TV investigative reporter Robert Hornacek for a half-hour interview broadcast on the “CW 14 Focus” public affairs program. Cross talks about the recent state budget cuts, his views on tenure, perceptions of UW System “ivory tower arrogance”… and also 300-bushel-an-acre corn yields, spittle beetles, calls for merger of UW Colleges and the state tech schools, and more. Interesting conversation.
The University of Wisconsin System’s administrative office reports that it has eliminated 36 positions in a cost-cutting measure a spokesman said will help it cope with state budget cuts. See a Wisconsin State Journal summary.
UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller distributed a letter to all faculty and staff last week, indicating he wanted to comment on developments related to the 2015-17 state budget and the insertion of language dealing with tenure and shared governance. Miller reiterated that Regent Present Regina Millner and UW System President Ray Cross have been adamant in their support of tenure and governance, and noted that a Systemwide task force (both Chancellor Miller and Prof. Steve Meyer are members) will assist the Board of Regents in shaping policies moving forward. UWGB’s Miller shared the following statements on the key topics:
Shared Governance – “Shared governance is highly valued at UWGB and will continue. The new advisory role of faculty and staff does not change the need for an effective shared governance system. Indeed, the collaboration of students, staff and faculty governance bodies will be even more important in the coming years as we celebrate our first fifty years and look forward to the future. The existing shared governance organization and procedures will continue at UWGB as allowed by law.”
Tenure: “I have been, and continue to be, fully and strongly supportive of tenure as essential to ensuring full freedom of inquiry, discovery and teaching in the academy. I will continue to enthusiastically recommend tenure for qualified faculty upon the recommendation of the tenured faculty and with the approval of appropriate administrative officers.”
With respect to program review:
“I strongly support a thoughtful, vigorous, routine and faculty-driven process of academic program review that allows for the possibility of the discontinuation of a program no longer deemed an essential component of the curriculum.”
With respect to the layoff of faculty related to program discontinuance:
“The layoff of tenured faculty resulting from program discontinuation must be governed by rigorous standards of due process operating within an effective shared governance system.”
You can read the Chancellor’s full message.
Sarah Goldrick-Rab, a UW-Madison professor of educational policy studies and sociology, a nationally prominent researcher regarding college affordability and access, and an outspoken public intellectual, is again drawing national attention. So far this month she has tweeted comparisons between Scott Walker and Adolph Hitler, and she also warned some incoming UW-Madison freshmen that the school they’ve chosen is a sinking ship. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank as commenting on the issue: “Any institution has its critics,” and “…especially in social media, it’s important to remember that the loudest voice usually isn’t the most accurate.”
In an email Friday (July 10) to all employees, Chancellor Gary L. Miller outlined how the new UW System budget — which includes a loss of $125 million annually in state taxpayer support — will affect UW-Green Bay. The good news: The $2.8 million funding cut here was scaled back from the $4.6 million initially projected, and is unlikely to require involuntary layoffs. The bad news: a significant reduction in force through the loss of several dozen vacant faculty and staff positions will be a challenge. The Chancellor thanked the University’s Trustees for their advocacy, and campus leadership and the University Planning and Innovation Council (UPIC) for their contributions to budget-reduction planning (which continues). To see Miller’s memo, click here.
About 24 positions at UW-Green Bay are losing their state GPR funding, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported in its July 11 print edition. “It is a serious reduction,” said Chancellor Gary Miller, who said layoffs aren’t needed because senior employees (29 total) accepted voluntary separation deals. “That’s a significant reduction in our workforce,” Miller said. “We are losing some key people, and some key knowledge.” The university has some savings to use while it fine-tunes its staffing plans, having frozen hiring, curtailed travel and cut back on purchases months ago in anticipation of the state budget reductions being approved. To read the P-G story, click here.
The UW System Board of Regents approved a 2015-16 budget Thursday that factors in $125 million in “painful” annual cuts from the Governor and Legislature. Several Regents and UW System officials were vocal in reacting to the actions necessitated by GPR reduction in state funding. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, reports that Regent Charles Pruitt voted against the budget, the first time in his 12 years on the board, which he called “a symbolic vote.” Said Pruitt, “Now for two budgets in a row, there’s been a toxic blend of deep budget cuts and a tuition freeze. The short- and long-term consequences of this budget are profound.” For the J-S coverage, click here.
With Senate passage yesterday and Assembly approval possible today, it’s likely the UW System Board of Regents will have a good handle on what the 2015-17 state budget allocation will be when board members meet Thursday (July 9) in Madison to ratify the System’s one-year spending plan. UW-Green Bay is anticipating a $2.8 million GPR cut as its share of what is expected to be an overall UW System reduction of $250 million. As always, the BOR meeting will be videostreamed, this time from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. or whenever the festivities conclude, here.
Some see it as political grandstanding, or as proposals that seem dramatic but won’t in fact change much about the way the UW System does business. Others see deep-seated enmity and a campaign to gut academic freedom and punish higher ed. The Politico website has a relatively concise but well-balanced overview that talks to people with various perspectives on the Wisconsin tenure debate.
UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller met with the campus community in a Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 to answer questions related to the budget and discuss plans for making reductions in the weeks and months ahead. What follows is a summarized and paraphrased list of topics discussed and a summarized version of Chancellor Miller’s response. For the full context of comments, please refer to the audio recording of the Town Hall meeting available on the Chancellor’s Office blog.
Brief Introductory Remarks
UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller addressed an audience of about 300 faculty, staff and students as part of an informational budget town hall meeting in the University Theatre, Wednesday (June 3). In his brief opening remarks, the Chancellor expressed his love for working in the Higher Education Academy and his deep appreciation to those who are giving selflessly for UWGB students. He said he understands the frustration and anger during the process, and he expressed his gratitude to alumni, legislators, the Board of Regents and UWGB trustees who are fighting on behalf of UWGB and the UW System. He noted that restoration of about $50 million in funding to the UW System is welcomed news.
‘We will have shared governance and tenure at UWGB’
In his opening remarks at the town hall meeting, Chancellor Miller said that despite the recent omnibus motion that included changes, among them, shared governance and tenure removed from the statutes, “we will have shared governance and tenure at UWGB and in the UW System.”
‘What we don’t know’
The budget still has to go through an analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau and be passed by the Assembly and Senate and then on to the Governor to sign the final budget. We don’t know what the Board of Regents’ reaction will be — Greg Davis, Clif Ganyard and I will travel to Milwaukee for meetings this Thursday and Friday (June 4-5) —we don’t know how the System will determine the campuses with the greatest need for the $50 million in reduced cuts.
‘What we do know’
As it stands, our cut would be from $4.6 to 3.1 million. We do know that if things should remain as currently stated this is still a very deep cut for the University. We do know we have an enrollment challenge to address. The legislature has moved toward giving us more flexibility to manage our own resources and we are grateful for that. We know there is no tuition cap for the 2017-19 biennium (there is one for 2015-17). The Regents have established a taskforce to develop recommendations for setting tuition. I am a member of that taskforce. We appreciate the hard work of our trustees and alumni to help reduce the cuts and gain the flexibilities that have been granted to the System.
We have a catalog of cuts that we will draw upon as we receive the final number for our cuts. Between now and July 1 we will make the reductions. They have been discussed with UPIC (University Planning and Innovation Council). The University Committee and the UPIC have generously committed to meeting regularly this summer. We will continue to update the campus via memorandums and Town Hall meetings, as necessary.
Regarding Tenure and Shared Governance
I fully believe in the process of tenure and shared governance. I expect that regarding tenure, the motion will be taken from state statutes and adopted directly into Board of Regents policy. Concerning shared governance, there will need to be statutory language drafted to reflect the JFC motion. It appears that most of the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) guidelines on shared governance have been retained in the JFC motion. We are uncertain what the board’s action will be regarding this issue.
Question and Answer Session:
Regarding the proposal to give segregated fee authority to chancellors
It is our understanding that the Chancellors already had that authority, although we have left those decisions to the students, but I give final approval.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that our benefits would be affected
There are likely to be insurance deductible and rate changes for all state employees. Information is available on individual employees’ MY UW System portal… https://uwservice.wisc.edu/news/post/239.
The JFC motion gives the Chancellors the right to end appointments without due process
That is incorrect. Due process remains in the JFC motion. There is not a requirement that a fiscal exigency be declared.
When will employees have access to budget cuts and when will offices be aware?
We have vetted changes with the Provost and UPIC. A lot of it is made up in vacant positions and proportional reductions. Only one program has been eliminated. It is not sweeping changes but multiple cuts. It is not something we would publish. We will be meeting with the various governance groups, committees and individual departments.
Will you affirm that despite the fact that the statutes would now give Chancellors the ability to layoff without financial exigency that you won’t operate any differently than the past?
I want to see what the Regents have to say. It would be irresponsible of me to make a statement at this point. Allow the process and the discussion to work. In shared governance, hopefully, we would come to that conclusion together.
Regarding the Board of Regents may change the way Chancellors are hired
I think there will be changes… We will be having a discussion about that.
Why did statues particularly call out the fact that “subject to” means “subordinate to.” Was that just being spiteful?
I have no insight to that.
Regarding director-level changes
There will be some reorganization. We first had to have a discovery process about the way this University works… its advising, its faculty development, etc… We need to know that we are optimizing resources. Some changes will be based on recommendations by the Invent the Future groups. We will be consulting with the UC and UPIC and studying other models. We have hired someone to lead this effort in student services. We will continue the work this summer to come up with a rationale and plan to share with governance groups as we begin implementation in the first of the year.
On ability to recruit and retain outstanding faculty and staff despite general morale
I believe, and I am not being Pollyannaish about this, that this is a great place to work. I wish we were in a different situation. We can’t take advice from our fears. We will go into the new year with vision and celebrating our 50th anniversary with the hand we were dealt. We need to be at an institution where we encourage others. I think what will help are the flexibilities to get people the resources that are needed and a chance to rearrange ourselves. Compensation is still a huge issue and we will continue to hammer it and hopefully find relief in the next biennium.
We feel as though we are under attack. We do more and more with less and less…
I feel what you feel. The only thing I can do is find the best opportunities to get the resources to the people who need them. We need to continue the conversation in an organized way that improves resources. I am not immune to feeling under attack.
Regarding voluntary separation savings
Yes, it will provide some savings.
On sharing the identified cuts publicly
I’m committed to shared governance. The discussion I had with the UC about the reorganization was to begin this summer. We are working through the appropriate groups and I’m sorry we can’t talk to everybody about them. The downside to publishing possible cuts is much worse than having a transparent shared governance operation where we share these ideas with representatives from the various groups and work toward a solution. It would be difficult to work in an environment where we had to layout 4.6M cuts and say “this could be you.” As far as vision goes, I didn’t get that luxury. We have expressed a bold vision for this University and we got hammered with $4.6 million in cuts. We have got to go into the next semester with the 50th anniversary and a renewed vision and talk about it. I’m very optimistic.
Regarding how cuts will affect students
I know cuts will affect course availability and other issues. Our goal is to diminish the impact of that to the extent that we can. We hope that it is transitional. That is an argument that we make publicly time and time again—that these cuts impact the student experience—and that’s what we’re trying to preserve.
A communication plan for the summer
We’re going to meet regularly with the UC. We will, hopefully in the next two weeks, have all the numbers. Then we will start to announce to the faculty in memos our reductions. After July 1, we’re going to start looking forward toward the 50th anniversary, what we’re going to talk about with regard to reorganization, how we’re going to deal with shared governance, and look to the future. We have work going on. We have new programs in the mix that need to go. The timing of any communication depends on what we know. I have committed to the UC that I will periodically communicate to campus via memos and town hall meetings as necessary.
Will fully-enrolled classes be cancelled because of cuts to teachers?
We’ve been watching that as carefully as we can with the Provost. I don’t think that will happen.
Regarding changes to adjunct faculty
The Provost can tell you how that is managed. We’re down-sizing the institution. Some folks may not be invited back.
Chancellor Miller invited conversation by asking if people have heard anything about what is going on at other institutions in the System in regard to the state budget cuts.
Discussion: Colleagues at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee have expressed disappointment at how their chancellors have been handling the cut.
I would prefer to have conversations with people individually about this.
Regarding programs across the System feeling threatened by the cuts and frustrated that collaboration didn’t lead to saving them.
Leadership (including the provosts) from campuses across the system are meeting routinely about that issue. There have been substantive discussions about how to preserve programs via collaboration. The system is interest in understanding how they can support this.
Discussion: Regarding other UW’s, some Universities were told of specific details of cuts and which positions will be cut or continued. Some cases had a premature release of information that caused anguish and anxiety.
Regarding Chancellor Miller’s commitment to the humanities
Absolutely committed. The humanities are one of our strengths.
On outsourcing, now occurring at other UW System schools
We’re not considering outsourcing services. It has been considered from time to time. My experience is that conditions have to be almost perfect for it to work the way we would like.
Plans to shore up funding gaps
We have to decide where there is potential as revenue stream. Grad programs can be a good opportunity. Executive reorganization plans include a new development person to optimize philanthropy. Unfortunately fundraising rarely helps operations, as it is almost entirely student support. The answer is more students. We have to have some sort of growth agenda. If you can cover costs, you can help everyone else.
Regarding UW-Green Bay being one of the lower campuses receiving support per student
We have this conversation at the system level every time we meet. That is a quirk in the funding model that three chancellors have hammered on. The trustees have really made some headway with that having met with the president last year. This, and the actual amount, is well known in the System.
Discussion: Student view… keep in mind that what affects student doesn’t necessarily affect faculty. She wanted to be the voice of classmates having to leave UWGB and even the state to complete coursework.
Discussion: while there are morale issues during these difficult times it’s important for stress management to bring levity, have a sense of humor and battle isolation with networking.
Good point. That would be helpful.
Reorganizing will have a trickle-down effect that will result in less people having to do more. What will we have removed from our responsibilities? What will be taken away so we can survive?
We’re not trying to push work from the top down, we’re trying to see how we can handle it. It’s unfortunate, but we still have to make the cuts.
Regarding a 21-credit load
I don’t know and it’s not something I’m going to talk about in this forum.
Discussion: Finding a way to learn what colleagues do throughout campus, and acknowledging time consumed with additional duties and responsibilities would go a long way. Don’t compromise cuts at the expense of quality, especially as it relates to things such as advising.
Definitely. By the way, your view of advising is well represented on the UPIC.
Fall 2015 enrollment?
Stable. Which we consider a success, but we will have to do better.
Wisconsin tax collections won’t grow beyond earlier projections, state lawmakers were told Wednesday. Gov. Scott Walker and legislators had been saying for months that they were hopeful revenue gains would make it possible to dial back some of cuts to K-12 schools and the University of Wisconsin System proposed in the governor’s initial budget plan. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Wednesday no decisions have been made about what to do about the $300 million cut to the UW, but Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the latest revenue projections makes it “much more difficult” to lower the cut. Read AP coverage.
‘Public authority’ plan pronounced dead
A proposal to split off the University of Wisconsin System has died at the hands of the Republican Legislature, according to a top lawmaker. Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, co-chairman of the powerful Joint Finance Committee, said Tuesday that his committee will not advance a proposal by Gov. Walker to remake the UW System as a public authority. “We’re looking for a little bit more thoughtful process to make that change,” Nygren said of the current bill. Read more.