Busting myths about the New Badger Partnership

During the early discussion about the New Badger Partnership and the public authority model proposed by Gov. Scott Walker, there has been some misinformation that has confused understanding of the proposal.

Detailed answers to questions about the New Badger Partnership can be found in the frequently asked questions section of the budget website, budget.wisc.edu. This document directly addresses some of most commonly misunderstood pieces of information.

Myth: Treating UW-Madison as a public authority would mean privatization.

Fact: UW-Madison has always been a public institution, even prior to merger, and will continue to be, even as a public authority. Under the Wisconsin Constitution, UW-Madison is the public institution of higher education required to exist at the seat of government. In addition, we remain a public institution via our land-grant status and by the fact that we will continue to receive state funding, maintain strong ties to the state and have a public purpose and mission.

Myth: The university will take the name “University of Wisconsin,” forcing other UW System institutions to change their names.

Fact: We have made sure that we continue to share the name “University of Wisconsin” and that we continue to have the kinds of transfer agreements for students, faculty research collaborations, library sharing and other things shared across campuses. We insisted in our discussions that UW-Madison not be renamed the University of Wisconsin precisely because of the importance of sharing the brand.

Myth: Gov. Scott Walker will be able to control UW-Madison because he will be able to appoint a majority of the board.

Fact: Having the executive branch appoint a majority of the Board of Trustees will preserve the university’s public status and its sovereign immunity status from certain types of lawsuits. The UW System Board of Regents is fully appointed by the governor to staggered terms, where the UW-Madison Board of Trustees would include appointments by the governor and the university of members with a closer interest in the university, such as faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Myth: Tuition remission for graduate students will not continue under Walker’s budget proposal.

Fact: Tuition remissions, which we all know are critical to the recruitment and retention of outstanding graduate students, will continue. Since the release of the state budget proposal, there have been questions about the future of remissions, related to a budget item that was not approved by Gov. Scott Walker. According to Vice Chancellor for Administration Darrell Bazzell, the item in question, part of a “Research to Jobs” initiative advanced by the Board of Regents, would have provided an additional $5.4 million for graduate assistant support for new faculty positions funded through the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates (MIU). What the governor denied applies only to new funding, Bazzell says. The 2011-13 biennial budget proposal has no impact on our existing authority to grant tuition remissions for graduate assistants.

Myth: Under the New Badger Partnership, tuition will go up 26 percent over the next two years.

Fact: Chancellor Biddy Martin said in an e-mail to campus on March 23 that under a public authority, UW-Madison could recommend a tuition that is no higher than what is anticipated for UW System institutions. An increase of 8.5 percent increase for state residents would be made up of a 5.5 percent base increase and a 3 percent increase for the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates and is similar to what students absorbed this past year. However, tuition will rise, regardless of whether UW-Madison becomes a public authority. If UW is granted more flexibility as a public authority under the proposed budget bill to set our own tuition rates, we will work extremely hard to maintain tuition at a reasonable level. We are examining the budget numbers contained in the governor’s proposed budget to determine the best manner in which to address the budget cuts.

Myth: UW-Madison will slash its diversity programs to manage the two-year, $125 million budget cut.

Fact: A diverse student body enhances the learning experience for all of our students. The chancellor has made a firm commitment to ensure the UW-Madison remains accessible and affordable. We will work to maintain our successful diversity programs and the aid provided to them. We will also continue our efforts to provide financial aid on the basis of need by using more revenue sources to strengthen our need-based aid programs.

Myth: Cooperative agreements, including those that allow research collaborations, transfer agreements and dual-degree programs with other UW System institutions, will be discontinued.

Fact: We do not expect any change to those types of collaborative agreements, which already occur on an institution-to-institution basis.

Myth: Chancellor Martin negotiated with Walker for a larger budget cut in exchange for flexibility under the New Badger Partnership.

Fact: The proposed $125 million budget cut to UW-Madison was established by Gov. Scott Walker. It was not an item of negotiation between the university and the governor.

Myth: UW-Madison receives more — or less — in tuition funds from UW System than it contributes to the system.

Fact: UW-Madison gets back the tuition dollars it generates — about $400 million a year — nothing more, nothing less.