Madison might split from UW system
February 24, 2011
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With looming budget cuts, UW-Madison is pushing to become autonomous from the UW System in order to have flexibility, which will offer more authority when making management decisions.
Currently, there are many restrictions on how money can be used to fund different aspects of UW institutions, and how they can move their resources around. The Board of Regents is pushing for more flexibility and trying to take away some bureaucratic layers the government has, making it easier for chancellors and the system to run the institutions.
Although this flexibility, named The New Badger Partnership, has been in discussion for the past year, and the board supports its principles, there have not been talks of Madison alone splitting from the system as a separate entity, said Aaron Wingad, the UW–Eau Claire Board of Regents representative.
“While it is essential that campuses get these flexibilities, there’s no reason Madison would have to separate from the system to have the kind of flexibility it needs and wants,” Wingad said. “It was a big surprise, so I strongly believe this has negative consequences for all of the other campuses in the system.”
In a letter written Tuesday by the UW Board of Regents to UW–Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin, the board members expressed their concerns with the flagship school’s departure.
“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 UW campuses,” according to the letter.
The system leaders wrote the letter to urge public communication and create awareness about this issue, stating that it’s not only Madison in need.
“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 freedom to move nimbly while managing significant cuts,” system leaders wrote.
These potential consequences could include heavy impacts on students at Eau Claire, including tuition increases and more competition among UW institutions for grants, faculty and prospective students.
Student Senator Nick Hogan said he thinks UW–Madison pulling from the system will have a negative effect on Eau Claire’s reputation as an affordable, quality option for students.
“While UWEC has a commitment to excellence, the value of a UWEC graduate’s degree will be weakened by UW-Madison dropping from the UW-System,” Hogan said. “We are all part of the UW System — while each school has its own independent reputation, together we also have an established reputation and credibility.”
Becoming autonomous from the UW System would create unnecessary competition between other Wisconsin schools and cause decreased transparency in system governance; it’s up to the students to stand up for their education, Wingad said.
“It’s going to take a lot of students from across the state to realize the impact this is going to have,” Wingad said. “We need them to use their voices.”