UW System

Wisconsin Gov. Walker's Next Battle: Tenure

Jun 12, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been making national headlines for years taking on public and private sector unions. Now, the possible GOP presidential candidate is going after another group — nearly 5,000 tenured faculty in the 26-campus University of Wisconsin system.

Tenure typically means that a university faculty member who has taught for a number years and passes a review process can't be easily fired. Tenure also translates often into a raise. For 12-month faculty at UW-Madison, the raise is about $8,000.

The Wisconsin Senate voted along party lines to seat Michael M. Grebe on the UW Board of Regents for a seven-year term.

The board oversees Wisconsin’s university system. Governor Walker nominated Grebe and Republicans confirmed his appointment on Tuesday.

Senate Democrats unsuccessfully urged a 'no' vote, expressing concerns about Grebe's political links with Gov. Walker and statements Grebe has made.

Grebe's father headed the governor's campaigns and oversees the conservative Bradley Foundation.

All Republicans on the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted in favor of the changes, all Democrats voted against them. The budget plan would cut funding for the University of Wisconsin System by $250 million over the next two years, rather than the $300 million Gov. Walker wanted.

The budget committee agreed with Walker to eliminate the state law protecting tenure or indefinite status for faculty. Instead, the appointed UW Board of Regents would determine who is granted tenure.

Dave Reid, Flickr

Republican budget leaders say the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly will not advance the part of Gov. Walker's budget that would give the UW System independence from state oversight.

Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. John Nygren say they also want to restore some of the $300 million Walker would cut from the system's budget, depending on new state revenue projections. The tally on tax collections should be forthcoming soon.

One method some UW System campuses will employ to help offset proposed state budget cuts and another two-year freeze on resident tuition, is to raise tuition for out-of-state students.

Several non-resident students at UWM are concerned about the impact on them, if the Legislature does not ease the funding cuts contained in Gov. Walker's proposed budget for Wisconsin.

Wandson Moreira is from Brazil and is one of 1500 students attending UWM from 80 outside countries. Moreira says he enrolled to study industrial engineering, hoping to establish a career in logistics.

beautifulcataya, flickr

In anticipation of state budget cuts, University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank says the flagship campus will have to eliminate approximately 400 positions and end some programs and restructure others. She specifically cites the fields of information technology, agriculture and the arts.

Gov. Walker cuts state funding for the UW System by $300 million in his two-year budget proposal. Republican leaders say they hope to reduce the cuts, particularly if state revenue increases by the end of the current fiscal year.

Troye Fox

The UW Board of Regents began a two-day meeting in Waukesha on Thursday.

They heard from UW System President Ray Cross, who told regents he’s making progress in swaying legislators, on the next two-year state budget. Cross is working to convince lawmakers not to go ahead with Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal, to strip $300 million from the system in the next two years. Cross wants a smaller cut, in addition to greater autonomy for the system.

digital_3rd_eye, Flickr

 

Wisconsin is experiencing two major political battles right now – right-to-work and higher education funding. They’re debates that largely skew down partisan lines. But one analyst says they actually have similarities that go deeper.

Adelie Freyja Annabel, Flickr

At state university campuses around Wisconsin, department heads are going into budgeting processes contemplating cuts that could be as small as five percent or as large as 20 percent – or more.

Gov. Scott Walker
Alex Wong/Getty Images

One observer says presidential hopefuls might raise the issue, thinking it could hurt Gov. Walker in polls. Another stunned that Wisconsin is talking cuts.

UWM photo

As Governor Scott Walker prepares to officially unveil his proposed budget for the coming biennium, UW-Milwaukee leaders are preparing to cope with potentially historic funding cuts.

marctasman, flickr

Gov. Walker said several times, after calling for deep funding cuts in the UW System in exchange for autonomy, that faculty might need to work more.

Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Gov. Scott Walker is again taking aim at public education.

Adelie Freyja Annabel, Flickr

UW System President Ray Cross is ordering cost-saving moves, in light of Gov. Walker's plan to cut funding for the system by 13%, while freezing tuition.

Katie Harbath, Flickr

Across the U.S., public universities are seeking less input from state leaders, on how to spend money, build and teach.

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