UW System listening session categorizes contributors

Listening Sessions geared more towards external community members



UW System President Ray Cross came to UW-Eau Claire last week for a listening session with students, faculty and staff to discuss the future of higher learning in Wisconsin, but not as members of the public.

Attendees were instead labeled under the “internal sources” umbrella, which Associate Vice President for Communications for the UW System, Alex Hummel, said is because the main point of the listening sessions is to gain outside perspective.

“The listening sessions are designed to gather input from external stakeholders,” Hummel said.

External stakeholders include local chambers of commerce, non-profit organizations and alumni.

The listening sessions were geared specifically toward each UW campus. Eau Claire’s listening sessions with Cross covered several topics including lack of diversity, the impact of the budget cuts and UW System universities’ public transparency.

Some campuses, Hummel said, used online surveys instead of listening sessions, and others discussed different topics entirely. The input and feedback for these campuses is specifically designed towards the corresponding community, she said.

Senior math student Liz Wussow said she is upset the listening sessions weren’t intended for faculty and students. If they were to do so, she said, “they might find more efficient ways to assess the situation.”

Wussow compared the emphasis on external community to the argument that local government is sometimes better than big government.

“We’re only just beginning to see the repercussions from the budget cuts,” Wussow said. “Sometimes, the people on the inside know the best solutions.”