Chancellor Blank’s message to Faculty Senate

Chancellor Rebecca Blank shared the following message by email with faculty on June 9 ahead of an emergency meeting of the Faculty Senate.

As we prepare to meet, I want to again reiterate my deep support for and commitment to the principles of tenure. I understand your concerns about the changes recommended in the budget proposed by the Joint Committee on Finance. I have been working with others to address those changes and will continue doing so.

UW-Madison has a long history of standing up for the academic freedom of inquiry that tenure is designed to protect. In the 1890s, the state superintendent of education in Wisconsin tried to fire Professor Richard Ely from his tenured position at the University of Wisconsin because of his out-spoken support for progressive views. The Regents of the University refused to censure Professor Ely, stating that “…we believe the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

Read more

Recent media coverage of the tenure issue

A selection of news stories and opinion about the changes to tenure and shared governance contained in the state budget bill.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: UW and campus leaders search for solution to tenure tension

Wisconsin State Journal: Faculty uneasy about working at UW after cuts, tenure changes

Inside Higher Ed: Wisconsin Board Adopts Tenure Rules That Don’t Satisfy Professors

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Opinion: Threats to shared governance and tenure put mission of UW at risk

Chancellor Blank email to faculty on tenure issues

Chancellor Rebecca Blank emailed the following statement to UW-Madison faculty on June 7.

“I know there is serious concern among the faculty about the changes in tenure and governance proposed by the Legislature. This is not surprising, given the lack of any consultation with higher education leaders or with the public prior to announcing these changes.

The proposal would remove tenure from state statute. I am pleased that the Board of Regents voted Friday to adopt into Regent policy the language establishing tenure that previously existed in state statute. We can discuss the pros and cons of having tenure established in statutory versus Regental policy, and I recognize that many faculty are worried about this change. This is a conversation we need to have. Almost all of our peers have long operated with tenure policies established by their governing boards.

Outside of the changes to the definition and establishment of tenure, I realize that faculty also have real concerns about the circumstances under which tenure can be abrogated, given the changes in language around layoffs and dismissals. The coverage in the national media (not all of it entirely accurate) has only exacerbated these concerns. I look forward to meeting with the Faculty Senate and discussing these issues at a Senate meeting on Tuesday, and hope as many Senators and faculty attend as possible.

In the meantime, let me clearly reaffirm my personal commitment to the value of tenure. (See my statement from last week.) The University of Wisconsin at Madison needs to have strong tenure protections, consistent with AAUP policy and with our peer institutions. I and others are working to change proposed legislative language that would allow layoffs of faculty for reasons of program modification or redirection. But I’ve also been holding multiple conversations with the System, the Regents, and our lawyers. I’m convinced that – even if this language is not changed – we can write policies for UW-Madison that ensure strong tenure protection. I realize that many faculty are dubious of this, and I hope we can talk about these options in the days ahead.

I will not accept a tenure policy that is inconsistent with our peers, or that violates accepted standards. I pledge to make no changes in policy or practice at UW-Madison until such policy is clearly established.

UW-Madison has a long history of standing up for academic freedom of inquiry. In 1894, the state superintendent of education in Wisconsin tried to fire Professor Richard Ely from his tenured position at UW because of his out-spoken support for progressive views.

The regents of the University refused to censure Professor Ely, stating “…we believe the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

I promise a more detailed set of comments in a blog to be released prior to the faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday. It is imperative that we are able to adopt policies that allow our world-class faculty to continue that sifting and winnowing of truth that leads to knowledge.”

Regents vote to move tenure to board policy

Today the UW System Board of Regents voted unanimously to incorporate language from current state law on faculty tenure into regent policy. System President Ray Cross said the move does not mean a shift away from traditional tenure protections, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

“We want to guarantee that tenure remains as a tenet and a pillar of higher education,” he said. See additional coverage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

UW-Madison faculty, in a petition and a faculty letter, have been urging Regents to seek the removal of language relating to tenure from a motion passed last week by the state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

Chancellor Blank statement on tenure

Chancellor Rebecca Blank shared the following statement on tenure on Wednesday, June 3.

“In the wake of the Joint Committee on Finance’s omnibus motion on the UW System budget, I have heard legitimate questions and concerns coming from all segments of our campus community about the proposed changes to tenure.

Tenure allows faculty the freedom of inquiry, to teach and examine ideas and topics without fear of reprisal.

Read more

Regents to consider tenure policy Thursday

The Education Committee of the UW System Board of Regents will consider a proposed policy on tenure at its meeting Thursday in Milwaukee.

Proposed Regent tenure policy

Regents to discuss recent budget actions Thursday, Friday

The latest legislative actions affecting the UW system – including a reduction in the proposed state funding cut and changes to shared governance and tenure – will be discussed by the UW System Board of Regents at its meeting in Milwaukee this week.

Live video streaming is scheduled Thursday from 1:15 to 4 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. Times are approximate and may change.

The full agenda and all supporting materials are available online.

JFC action reduces UW cut, makes changes to tenure and governance

After months of public debate over a $300 million proposed budget cut to the UW System in the 2015-2017 biennium, the Joint Committee on Finance Friday reduced the cut by $50 million, but also adopted significant changes to shared governance and tenure protections.

The committee passed on a vote of 12-4 an omnibus motion that included 70 different items. The motion lowers the base budget reduction by $25 million annually, provides an additional $21 million in funding for projected increases in fringe benefit costs in the upcoming biennium, and provides new and additional flexibilities in the areas of human resources, procurement and building construction.

Significantly, the committee added to Gov. Walker’s budget proposal $86 million in state bonding for the much-needed renovation of UW-Madison’s Chemistry Building.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank said that the additional funding provided by the committee was welcome news in a very tough budget year, but also expressed concerns about changes to governance and tenure provisions.

Read more

Summary of the Joint Finance motion

UW System has prepared a summary of the omnibus motion passed Friday by the Joint Finance Committee.

JFC Action on the UW System 2015-17 Budget

Media coverage of Joint Finance action

Associated Press: Panel votes to cut UW budget by $250 million, eliminate tenure

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: GOP plan reduces cuts to UW System funding

WISC-TV, Madison: UW budget cuts reduced, tenure eliminated from law

Wisconsin State Journal: State budget committee approves letting UW System authorize charter schools

Older posts Newer posts