conflicts of interest

There’s still a lot of protest and politics going on in Wisconsin, although the national attention has turned elsewhere. At least 8 state senators (5 Republican 3 Democrat) will face recall elections. The “collective bargaining bill” and our 6-8% effective pay cuts (by way of deductions for retirement and health insurance) are delayed by a court case.

One of the ugly elements of this struggle that has not been national news is the part relating to the University. Part of Gov. Walker’s infamous budget bill bomb was a restructuring of the University of Wisconsin to separate out UW Madison as a public authority. He had met privately with Chancellor Martin* to get her proposal, and included it in his budget bill along with a huge funding cut. UW System cried foul, as they’d agreed to bargain in a block and accused Chancellor Martin of bad faith — a claim she disputed, saying that the Governor had asked her not to talk to others and telling her that he would talk to the System people, and that the System president had also had private meetings with the Governor that he did not disclose to others. The Chancellor’s story sounds plausible to me — there is other evidence that Gov. Walker’s plan was to take all opponents by surprise with a blitzkrieg.

Politically, Walker’s agenda is pretty clearly to sow dissent among those who would otherwise be united in opposing him. I don’t think even Republicans are arguing that the inclusion of the proposal in the budget bill was a good-hearted effort to do what is best for the University. They way it was done was obviously calculated to embarrass Chancellor Martin. However, Chancellor Martin and a lot of faculty do think that the public authority is something they have wanted and worked for for a long time, and support the bill.** Other faculty are lining up against the bill. Some argue that the whole public authority idea is a bad one, and basically argue in favor of continued populist control of the university. (It is my impression that most of these are fairly young, as I personally have a hard time imagining how anybody can say with a straight face that the rules we’ve been living under could possibly be good for us, but there are some older people who say this who seem to be guided primarily by ideological principle.) Others who basically agree about the need for a different structure argue that the proposal isn’t the right one to go to, that a major restructuring at this moment in history would put too much power into Governor-appointed regents who cannot be trusted to defend academic freedom and other moral virtues. Former chancellors and provosts are coming out on different sides of this issue.

All of these discussions among faculty are occurring in an extremely dangerous and conflictual political context in which the one thing that is certain is that there are few in state government who have the university’s well-being as much of a priority.

Some background. In the 1970s, the University of Wisconsin – Madison was merged with other state colleges and universities into the University of Wisconsin system. The system includes a half dozen universities and another half dozen two year schools. There are a scattering of vocational master’s programs around other campuses, but only Milwaukee and Madison have PhD programs. There are longstanding grievances among UW-Madison faculty about our status in UW System and our treatment in state government, with many older faculty feeling that state resources have been unfairly diverted from Madison to other campuses and that the state government has materially hurt UW-Madison with politically-motivated meddling from the state legislature. Among the things that have particularly galled me are having our raise pool explicitly voted on in the state legislature, having the legislature successfully mandate the creation of new programs and so-far unsuccessfully threaten to abolish others, and having the legislature on three different occasions that I know of (and possibly more than I do not know of) seize money from a university account that had been set up as a no-state-tax-dollars-involved profit center and put it in the state’s general revenue fund. University budgeting has become defensive and obscurantist as a consequence — money cannot be accumulated into any kind of reserve for fear of seizure, and bookkeeping becomes an exercise in money laundering and money hiding to prevent the state legislature from finding it. Also we get to be a political football. In previous years, when the legislature was of a different party from the governor, it was common practice for one side to try to “get” the other by throwing a political bomb at the university.

As I have debated this issue with grad students (who are mostly lined up in opposition to the plan), I have been trying to unravel the threads of interest involved. The students tend to emphasize concerns about tuition. Issues of access and affordability are real ones. They are issues now, as state funding continues to decline. All predictions about how this issue would play out under different structures are entirely hypothetical. One group argues that to change from being a public university is to give up forever on the idea of more tax dollar subsidies for tuition. Another group argues that the only way to increase affordability is to raise tuition simultaneously with raising financial aid — effectively to charge a sliding scale that depends on family income; people who advocate this disagree about which structure is most likely to do this. As that is all hypothetical, that particular debate is solely one of opinions.

But the whole tuition debate — one I am sympathetic to as a progressive — cuts entirely differently from the issue of what is good for an elite research university. If my goal is access to high quality education for youth of modest means, wouldn’t I just stop funding an elite research university entirely? Wouldn’t that access goal be better met with an institution staffed by lower-paid faculty teaching three or four courses a semester than by an institution staffed by higher-paid faculty whose major interest and time commitment is to their research/scholarship? The trend at elite schools is toward inequality: higher and higher salaries for the high-performing research faculty, and more and more teaching done by lower paid adjunct faculty.

One core value question is whether you support the idea of an elite research institution or not. Should there be major public research institutions at all? And if so, what does it take to maintain them? Can an elite research university survive with an egalitarian ethos in the face of competition from the unapologetic elitist private institutions? The “public” schools that are thriving that I know of have gotten some kind of independence from their state government oversights. Are there any models out there of thriving public elite universities that have not half-privatized? Chancellor Martin thinks this change is needed for UW as a research university. Political critics here argue that this allows for growing corporate control of research. The trouble is that that train has already left the station. There is essentially zero state funding for research. Research funding is federal, or corporate. As public money — both state and federal — have declined, the university has been increasingly reliant on private donor fundraising. Read corporate influence. That is happening now, has been happening for the past twenty years. Public money dries up, corporate money fills the void. This is a real issue, but debates about the current bill (in my view) are irrelevant to it.

To the graduate students reading this, I ask you: are you advocating the end of research institutions and the idea of graduate training that is associated with them? Just where do you think graduate school is going to come from, if not the elite research institutions? What exactly is your model?

Another interest group — one whose interests have been glaringly absent from all the public discussions — are the staff of the university. They are currently part of the state civil service system and are mostly unionized, except for managers and some professionals. The bill calls for “flexibility” in staffing, and is utterly silent on what that would mean for staff. In the short run, I think they are supposed to be guaranteed to stay in the state retirement and health care systems, but I know nothing about what would happen to the rules about bidding on jobs, job security, etc. It is not clear what would be good for them. Private universities do not have a good track record for treatment of their staff. If I were staff, it would look to me like a possible choice between the frying pan and the fire.

I find myself getting angry at students who are organizing anti-chancellor rallies around simple-minded slogans about tuition or privatization/corporate influence that seem to me to be more oriented to building up their sense of themselves as radical activists than to any real interest in what is actually happening at the university. This is doubtless unfair, as I think many students are scrambling to get themselves up to speed on this tangle of issues. And, I remind myself, we don’t all have the same interests. For that matter, my own interests are conflicted around these issues, and I suspect many students are in the same boat. In a very complex, volatile and dangerous political environment with a lot of different interests and interest groups, it can be very difficult to chart the best course of action.

*I am pointedly calling her Chancellor Martin and not Biddy because I see some sexism in the way her first name is used where just the surname would typically be used for a man in her position.
** It seems pretty clear that the faculty or regents who wanted this change were the ones who gave Chancellor Martin her “marching orders” three years ago, and that she did not have enough background to be able to plug into the diversity of opinion on the campus. She ran into a buzz saw a couple years ago around reorganizing how campus research is administered, where it was evident there were similar problems.

Author: olderwoman

I'm a sociology professor but not only a sociology professor. It isn't hard to figure out my real name if you want to, but I keep it out of this blog because I don't want my name associated with it in a Google search. Although I never write anything in a public forum like a blog that I'd be ashamed to have associated with my name (and you shouldn't either!), it is illegal for me to use my position as a public employee to advance my religious or political views, and the pseudonym helps to preserve the distinction between my public and private identities. The pseudonym also helps to protect the people I may write about in describing public or semi-public events I've been involved with.

16 thoughts on “conflicts of interest”

  1. OW, as one of the grad students you’re frustrated with, I would be very happy to discuss this more fully with you later either on- or off-blog, but just a quick note for tonight: it’s not accurate that the needs of staff haven’t been any part of the public discussions. Yesterday’s rally had the maintenance of union rights among its core demands (including specifics like severing the Food Fight contract), and I don’t think I was the only person to raise this aspect of “flexibility” in my comments during the discussion with Chancellor Martin.

    AFSCME Local 171 has organized protests against the NBP because they do see it as a chance for the university to free itself from some of its obligations to union labor. Unfortunately, the AFSCME protest I attended, which came while the capitol organizing was still in full swing (and hence everyone was exhausted and preoccupied), was small.

    And while yesterday’s rally got media attention, none of the media focused on our actual arguments, whether about tuition; about the public role of the chancellor in opposing budget cuts and how that is affected by her strategic decision to push for the NBP; about financial aid requirements being separated from the actual bill (which Chancellor Martin believes is a piece of preventing state “micro-managing”); or about staff unions.

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  2. Thanks Elizabeth, I am happy to hear the staff issues being lifted up and apologize for not being up to date on that. And I should also say that my own opinion keeps moving around from day to day as I consider one issue and then another. By later this evening, I personally have moved more away from the NBP in its present form.

    I titled the post “conflict of interests” because the central interest question that I’d like the grad students to struggle with is the question of do they advocate elite public research institutions or not.

    Do the grad students advocate the plan UW System is putting forward? Do they have answers to the concerns about the history of political meddling in the university?

    My real concern is that my interests as a faculty member of an elite research institution may be different from my interests as a citizen who cares about access to education and worker rights.

    I do think sociologists in general, not just us at Wisconsin, should be asking ourselves hard questions about the future of elite research institutions in the public sphere. Is that viable any more?

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  3. OW – Great post. I think your post cuts to the core of what is the central issue facing most public universities today. Wisconsin is certainly not alone in its move to get more autonomy from the state, but it may be one of the more prominent cases because it has represented for so long the ideal of what a public university or should be. But as you point out, that model of a public research university may no longer be viable.

    Grad students are in an interesting position. Ideologically, the position that a public university should be publicly funded and tuition should be semi-subsidized by taxes makes complete sense. But they also have an interest in seeing their institution survive and not lose its reputation as an elite university. As an alumnus of a public university sociology program, I think the negative consequences of being strapped to the state’s finances are pretty severe. Semi-independence from the state can be a good thing for grad students if the other option is a gradual deterioration of faculty quality (I’m not referring to Wisconsin’s faculty at all but rather to the more general problem that faces any public university in trying to recruit and retain mid- to senior level faculty). The last thing UW students want is to see Wisconsin lose its rank as a prestigious institution because they could no longer compete in the market for high quality faculty.

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  4. I asked David Meyer of http://politicsoutdoors.com/ to cross post the comment me made on this post over on my personal blog
    http://sociologicalconfessions.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/conflicts-of-interest/ but since he seems not to as obsessively on line as I am, I’m copying his comment here because I think it is important:
    “The access/excellence mantra that is chanted religiously at public universities obfuscates the very real conflict between the two goals–as you point out above. When you make the production of knowledge a goal for a campus, you have to squeeze, compromise, or spend spend spend to serve the same teaching goals. (A professor who teaches four courses a semester and holds a dozen office hours is going to spend less time conducting research. A professor who teaches two courses will reach fewer students and/or teach very large classes.) And serving either the research or the teaching mission well costs money. Of course, anyone can walk onto any campus and find things they think are wasteful. In real life, however, universities exist to preserve old stuff without much market value at the moment (I’m glad we have a classics department) and cut corridors for new stuff that we can’t yet imagine.
    Tuition is one source of that money, and the high tuition/high aid model erodes support for state spending.
    Government funding is another. The states don’t do much on funding research–although CA does better than WI. Most federal institutions that fund research have been level funded since the Bush era, resulting in the real loss of a substantial part of a generation of scientists who can’t start their own research careers. But populist democratic control doesn’t tend to fund research that’s hard to explain. (Recall that candidate Sarah Palin disparaged research using fruit flies, suggesting that such pursuits were esoteric rather than foundational.)
    My one quibble with your entry is the claim that corporate funding steps in when government/foundation funding falters. Not quite. Corporate funders are more interested in quick applications than funders of basic research. This makes sense, of course; they operate to make a profit. But the foundational work that allows rapid progress later on–and the higher risk stuff that sometimes leads to big breakthroughs–can’t be sustained through corporate funding. Examples: moon projects, human genome, etc. are all the product of substantial government investment. Afterward, private interests can build on the science they developed and make profits–as well as useful products. But government has to ante up to make the whole thing work.”

    My response was to agree with him completely about the importance of government funding for basic science and to share the worry about its relative decline.

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  5. As a longtime union member and supporter of the graduate students, I have been watching all of this unfold from afar, and I share many of olderwoman’s concerns. From the union’s perspective, it has always seemed problematic that the union had to negotiate with both the UW and the state, whose interests were not always aligned. The UW has frequently been caught in the middle: they have a real interest in keeping the grad students happy so that it can attract the best students, but they have to work within the constraints set by the state. In other words, it seemed to me that grad students would be better off if the union could negotiate directly with UW.

    So I was pretty surprised when I started hearing rumblings against Chancellor Martin’s New Badger Partnership (and especially because everybody seemed to go along with her ideas before Walker got involved). Yes, I think it would be a shame to break up the UW system; yes, I think it would be a shame to loosen public responsibility and accountability for the UW-Madison. But I don’t think the status quo is sustainable.

    Having a faux public university might be worse for diversity and equality than having a more privately-run university–one that can actually afford to provide full scholarships for working-class and minority students because they charge the wealthier students much more. In principle, I believe in public universities; in practice, I’m not sure whether citizens (or more to the point, politicians) of the U.S. have the courage to invest in shared future prosperity anymore.

    It is sad to me that graduate students feel that Martin should be a target. I’m not saying they are wrong; I’m just saying that it’s sad. I think it’s important to stand up for one’s principles; but I would guess that Martin and the graduate students are aligned on most of their principles.

    Can the immediate conflicts of interest (which are unavoidable in many respects) be dealt with cooperatively, so that the parties can unite as allies against what I think is the bigger, long-term clash of values and principles?

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  6. OW,

    A fact correction: The UW System has 13 University campuses, and another 13 “2-year” campuses, plus the UW-Extension, not a “half dozen of each. So the UW System is twice as big as you portrayed, and its breadth is why it enjoys widespread political support, and why the NBP seems DOA in the Wisconsin Legislature.

    Most UW-Madison faculty are not concerned whether the NBP would be better for our research, teaching and public service missions; almost all of us agree we would see improvement. We are concerned about whether we can rely on the Governor to act in good faith as the NBP is implemented. Current events suggest this would not be the case: Scott Walker could appoint Lynne Cheney(or even Dick Cheney) to the Board of Trustees and there would not even be a hearing, never mind a Senate confirmation vote.

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  7. Thank you for mentioning the University staff and for recognizing that our interests have been ignored in the current debate. However, most academic staff at the UW-Madison are not unionized, while classified staff are. In fact, only a year ago many academic staff members (myself included) fought vehemently against being reclassified and forced into unions against our will. http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/education/university/article_d25a80f4-716f-11df-a556-001cc4c002e0.html The irony is that in the current political climate we rallied in support of these very same unions.
    Most academic staff I know want change for a variety of reasons, and most favored the NBP before it became linked to(became synonymous with?) public authority status and the Governor. As uwbarry points out, it’s a deep mistrust of this Governor that now leads most of us to oppose the NBP.

    Something else: I have a problem with your paragraph on “elite research universities.” To me it reads as if you equate research solely with monetary potential. What about the humanities, arts, social sciences, educational fields, etc.? Those areas in the sciences that are not instant cash cows? Is there no “research” in those fields, or have we already given up on them? What is “elite” anyway? The UW Discovery Center is good example of the current trend, a trend that will only be intensified with NBP-like proposals. Nobody had any illusions that the Center would spur “discovery” in – let’s say – archeology, but many people were surprised to learn that it is exclusively about bio-medical research. Or maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised, since this is the current most lucrative industry. Is there really nothing to discover in other fields??? Are we telling our students, our children, if you want to go to graduate school and do research, you can only go into those fields and work only on those projects paid for by outside sponsors/business interests? Sounds like a limited education and limited research to me, – and not very “elite” in the long run in the global market place, either.

    Instead of debating the NBP and Capitol politics and trying to find more and more private and corporate funding, we should make a real effort to connect with the citizens/tax payers of Wisconsin, and interest them in their public education system — including an “elite research university.”

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    1. @ad1848. I think you misread OW’s point about “elite research.” It doesn’t suggest that “elite” research be biomedical, nor that it be a corporate “cash cow.” As is well known, some of the most highly ranked departments at UW are in fact social science research departments–its department of sociology comes to mind. OW’s point (among other things) is that no research (biomedical or social) is free, and that the state is no longer meaningfully supporting the cost of this research– why else would UW’s education researchers hunt outside grants with such abandon, for example? I agree with you that it would be nice if we could make the case for research to the citizens of WI. I have my doubts they’ll bite, though. Research, or even graduate education, isn’t on their radar, and it’s not for UW’s lack of trying. It’s with this fearsome backdrop that greater private fundraising becomes necessary.

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      1. The assumption put forward by the original author and by rugstudy that the state funds research is largely false. In fact, several scholars of higher education finance have presented findings that undergraduate education, which is funded partially by state government and an increasingly larger percentage by tuition (tuition authority is delegated from state govt to UW System, which is a form of state taxation) actually provides subsidies to cover the increasingly high costs of graduate education and research. Past campus leaders successfully made arguments to state government that you can’t allocate state tax revenue to pay for faculty salaries/benefits tied only to undergrad ed or to grad ed, and they also made the argument that state bonding can’t be granted only to new buildings or to renovations to existing buildings for undergraduate education or graduate education/research.

        Across the U.S. we are witnessing signficant non-resident undergraduate tution increases, and in many states it now exceeds the actual cost of undergraduate education. Chancellor Martin has stated that one of the most important elements of the former New Badger Partnership and the substituted UW-Madison public authority is to delegate tuition authority and admissions policies from the UW System to UW-Madison. And the second reason why Chancellor Martin is seeking the new public authority is her desire to invest different forms of revenue at the UW Foundation, which includes revenues that aren’t currently invested at the UWF.

        Also, please note that Chancellor Martin negotiated not only a reduction in state GPR to the UW-Madison via a new proposed block grant, but she also accepted the Governor’s proposal for the state NOT to pick up the faculty and staff pay plan which up to this point was covered by the state. For future reference, a 1% pay plan increase for all faculty and staff costs approximately $5 million, every year. Where will that revenue come from if the public authority proposal is approved? A safe bet is via tuition increases and a combination of UWF investments.

        Yes, former Governor Doyle introduced and the legislature controlled by the democrats approved a biennial budget that reduced state GPR to the UW System and now Governor Walker has proposed a $250 million reduction. Chancellor Martin’s belief is that the campus will generate enough savings from the new proposed flexibilities (very limited procurement flexibilities, facilities management flexibility if campus building projects are funded by $0 state bonds, and the need to construct and adopt a completely new human resource system), new revenue from tuition and admissions authority (evidence from other states, systems, and campuses clearly show significant tuition increases follow and a shift of enrollment from residents to non-residents, especially international students who are funded by wealthy government funding), and new UWF investments.

        Finally, please note that Chancellor Martin has already instituted new campus policies which have generatednew revenues, which did not require a new public authority. She increased the federal F&A rate from 49.5% to 50.5%, effective July 1, 2011, which will bring in an additional $2 million; she signed a MOU with the former DOA Secretary which allowed the campus to commit the interest earnings of of student segregated fees thus meeting the Ford Foundation’s required “state match” to pay for the humanities initiative. Perhaps this is one of many reasons why many of us seriously question the Chancellor’s commitment to need-based aid. Many of our peer universities have adopted “promise-like,” institutional need-based aid programs that cover tuition and room & board for students from families earning less than $80k, not what Chancellor Martin proposes when she merely claims she will hold students from certain SES backgrounds “harmless.”

        Two final words of caution for those of you who are supporting or who are considering supporting Chancellor Martin’s proposed UW-Madison public authority:

        1. Contrary to numerous public claims made by Chancellor Martin and others, the creation of a public authority will NOT prevent the state from raiding our funds. If one seriously investigates the other Wisconsin public authorities then you will find that the governor’s are not prohibited from raiding public authority funds. Who knows, if one does their homework you will discover that it has already happened.

        2. I understand that many sociologists don’t bother themselves with questions of inequalities and the growing disparity in family incomes. I also understand that many sociologists aren’t concerned about the growing chasm in educational opportunities and education attainment. However, if one was concerned about the escalating rates of poverty and the substantial educational and income disparities then you would identify legitimate and signficant concerns with the proposed UW-Madison public authority.

        Even before looking at the future I strongly encourage you to take a look at the changing UW-Madison freshman profile by SES and first-generation status. Perhaps this isn’t a big issue to you, but after the Morril Land Grant Act of 1862 was approved, Wisconsin state government was engaged in a signficant debate with the question of which institution should be granted the state’s land grant status: Ripon College, Lawrence Institute, or the University of Wisconsin. In 1866, WI government ultimately granted the UW the state’s land grant status, which then slowly led to the allocation of state revenue from the sale of federal lands to the UW for new courses, degree programs and eventually the schools and colleges of agriculture, mechanical arts (engineering), military, and education. It also led to higher education access to populations previously not granted pathways to colonial colleges, such as women, working adults, and others not from wealthy backgrounds.

        If the UW-Madison was not the state’s land grant university perhaps we should not be as concerned about the predicted impacts on student access if the UW-Madison public authority is approved.

        A question for you: given UW-Madison’s decision to seperate itself from state government and UW System is it now time to transfer Wisconsin’s Land Grant charter from UW-Madison to UW-Milwaukee?

        Noel Radomski

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  8. Noel, I’m having trouble following your arguments partly because I think you must have left a “not” out in the first paragraph and partly because you seem to have mis-read some parts of my post. I think your arguments are: (1) The state HAS funded research for UW-Madison by way of acknowledging that professors salaries include research and recognizing the need to subsidize graduate education. (2) The chancellor was wrong to accept budget cuts in exchange for new authority. (3) The problem of access is a real one, the chancellor’s plan will exacerbate the problems of inequality and poverty. (4) Land grant schools expanded educational access and Madison should give up land grant status if it is a separate authority. (5) Money can be raided from a public authority — that problem won’t be solved.

    Since the point of my post was to call attention to the very difficult and tangled mess we find ourselves in and to express concern about the long-term viability of public institutions, I think your comments (as difficult as they are to parse) are a welcome addition to this discussion.

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  9. I apologize that my non-anonymous post was difficult for you to parse. For you, “olderwoman,” let me be more clear:

    1. Your original post has several factual errors and assumptions that are consistent with policies, practices, and the philosophy of a private research university, but not a public research university. Further, you either ignore or dismiss not only our land grant ethic, but also either ignore or disagree with campus and state’s decision to follow the Hatch Act, the Smith-ever Act, the GI Bill, and the Higher Ed Act.

    2. You and others casually dismiss 163 years of state investment to the UW-Madison because Wisconsin, like other states, are living through a Great Recession.

    3. I am tired of select faculty and “campus leaders” who continue to advance policies which are in alignment with the sophomoric Ayn Rand philosophy of rugged individualism, opposition to public investments to advance the public good, and a willingness to embrace the marketplace. Over our history, Wisconsin and the UW-Madison have wrestled with budget increases, no budget increases, and budget reductions during periods of surplus and deficits. Our campus has wrestled with the forces of “global competition” and decreased state funding and our former campus leaders and prominent faculty came up with creative public policy innovations. Today, we have prominent faculty like Professor Cronon and Professor Suri who advocate alongside Chancellor Martin with promises of maintaining a quality research university by privatizing and deregulating our state’s land grant university.

    What is even more revolting is when Professor Cronon seeks and garners international publicity after his questions about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) led to the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s FOIA request. What Professor Cronon doesn’t do, however, is recognize that ALEC has a history of advocating university charters and that ALEC wrote an April 2011 policy brief endorsing the UW-Madison public authority proposal. I am still waiting for Professor Cronon and other advocates of the UW-Madison public authority to provide public comments on why they are opposed to ALEC’s involvement and success in Wisconsin policy making, but they remain mute what it comes to this topic.

    4. The UW-Madison public authority will provide campus leaders the power to more quickly dismiss academic staff and classified staff, many of whom are either supporting the faculty or who are teaching the professor’s courses because the faculty buy out their teaching loads with their research grants. I understand that administrators want new flexibilities so they can operate more “efficiently,” but I find it depressing that the faculty either don’t understand the likely implications that the public authority will have on non-faculty.

    So, I hope that my comments are not as difficult to parse and I hope that my candid entry will encourage you and and others to finally study, ask questions, and then take a position on the UW-Madison public authority proposal.

    I leave you with one final thought and I will repeat my previous question:

    Thought: We must stop the manichean narrative that our campus leaders continue to advance: we must support the proposed UW-Madison public authority or the proposed UW System Wisconsin Idea Partnership. Other states have advanced policy initiatives that we could learn from; better yet, we could design a policy solution that is not only consistent with UW-Madison’s rich past, but one that also strengthens our unique role in creating, transmitting, disseminating, and translating knowledge through an integrative approach to teaching and learning, research, and public service. My idea will be saved for another entry.

    Question: if you support the UW-Madison public authority then why shouldn’t the state transfer Wisconsin’s Land Grant charter from UW-Madison to UW-Milwaukee?

    Noel Radomski

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  10. Cycling back across the comments, some key points I feel highlighting from what others said:
    (1) State tax dollars DO subsidize research to the extent that they support lower teaching loads for high-paid faculty. Not all research gets external funding, but research is supported when a faculty member is paid not to teach.
    (2) The interests of faculty are not the same as the interests of non-faculty staff. The trend in higher education is toward higher salaries for tenure-track faculty and lower salaries for non-faculty instructional and non-instructional staff (except some classes of higher-level administrators).
    (3) At private research universities, undergraduate tuition subsidizes research and graduate education. You won’t see this in their brochures, but that is how it works.

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