Letter from Kevin Reilly, Regents

The following is an e-mail from UW-Madison Chancellor Martin to all students, faculty and staff.

Dear campus community,

I have been asked by UW System to share the attached message with you. I welcome the opportunity to meet with the Board of Regents on Friday for a discussion of the evolution and value of the New Badger Partnership. I am glad President Reilly and Regents Pruitt and Spector support the principles we have been advancing. As you know, I have been advocating these principles for over a year. I do not agree that the public authority model under discussion would be a “radical departure from earlier statements about flexibility.” At every point in this process, I have argued for what I believe is in the best interests of our great students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners at a time when the need for change in higher education, particularly at research institutions, is urgent, and when the state most needs its great research institutions.

Chancellor Biddy Martin
February 22, 2011

Chancellor Biddy Martin, UW-Madison, 161 Bascom Hall, Madison, WI 53706

Dear Chancellor Martin:

We want to respond to your recent message to the Board of Regents, and your memo to the broader campus community. In our judgment, your endorsement of the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a stand-alone public authority, wholly separate from the other UW System campuses, is a radical departure from earlier statements about administrative flexibility and efficiency.

As you know from our letter of February 15, 2011 to Governor Walker, we have serious concerns about the fragmentation of Wisconsin’s public university system. In contrast with our commitment to transparency and shared governance, the Board of Regents and other university governance groups have been excluded from conversations about a major sea change in the structure of public higher education.

Tough economic times and looming budget cuts lend new urgency to the call for management flexibility, but all UW campuses face that threat, and all will need the freedom to move nimbly while managing significant cuts.

We strongly supported, and continue to support, the principles of the New Badger Partnership, as presented to the Board of Regents and other stakeholder groups. You have made great efforts to promote the need for new management flexibility, emphasizing that such flexibility could be achieved without severing ties with the rest of the UW System. We applauded those efforts, but we never supported the separation of UW-Madison from the other campuses.

We want greater flexibility for our flagship campus within our System, but the flagship should not become a separate entity that is destined to compete against other UW campuses.

This separation – a departure from the New Badger Partnership – has generated concern from across the state, and from UW-Madison itself. Dismantling our public university structure is a consequential public policy decision that affects every UW campus, all 72 UW-Extension county offices, and every family who dreams of seeing their child earn a UW degree. With that in mind, a number of Regents have asked that we schedule a special meeting of the Board where this specific topic – separating UW-Madison from the other campuses – can begin to receive thorough public consideration. We will hold that meeting on Friday, February 25.

Governor Walker said he is willing to consider changes that would benefit all UW campuses. This is our opportunity for all UW institutions to move forward together as part of a coordinated, statewide system, and we hope you will support this inclusive effort.

In the spirit of this important public conversation, we ask you to share this letter immediately with all faculty and staff, as well as ASM leadership, on the UW-Madison campus. In addition, we ask you to forward it to the Boards of Directors of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, the UW Foundation, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

Thank you.


Charles Pruitt, President, Board of Regents

Michael Spector, Vice President, Board of Regents

Kevin P. Reilly, President, UW System


Board of Regents, Chancellors