New Badger Partnership: Q&A

On Thursday, I posted about the NBP to dispel some of the myths that have been floating about.  Noel Radomski, a candidate for Mayor in Madison commented back with a few points which I’ll try to answer in this post. Reminder: the following are my own understandings/opinions on the matter.  I do not speak for the Chancellor (nor would I want to) and I’m trying to answer them to the best of my ability.  I’ve left off some analysis because I’m trying not to debate the merits now, just answer questions.

Also, ask Dean Berquam and Chancellor Martin who they mean when they state they want the UW resident undergradute tuition to be near the median of our “peer universities”

So, this is an easy one and anyone who pretends its something else is a fear monger. They both have said repeatedly that this group is Big Ten for tuition.  The Chancellor doesn’t try to hide that.  In faculty pay however, Peer Group tends to mean the Big Ten plus Berkeley, UCLA, etc.  So, I can understand the confusion but regarding tuition, it’s quite clear.

Third, investigate which performance or outcome metrics will be used as our institutional accountability agreements prior to receiving flexibilities from the state and/or UW System.

I’m sure we will know more once the Governor proposes a model for us.  You think Rep. Nass is going to allow the UW to receive ANY state funds without oversight? Not likely.  36.09(5) only applies on a per institution basis and any proposal to grant the UW more institutional power is going to come with Shared Gov concessions.  Again, we have on record commitments from the Chancellor for that.  Specific numbers? I’d imagine something regarding percentage of 4 year graduates, a continuation of a guaranteed percentage of Wisconsin high school students  per class, and perhaps a jobs created metric.  Those seem likely, but probably missed some.  Ideas, anyone?

And finally, which regulations are the target of the UW’s scorn: Wisconsin government? UW System? Both? If so, which ones? Oh, in Virginia, the four campuses that benefited most from the “Virginia Model” all had institutional board of visitors. Ergo sum, who should appoint our new campus board? What should be the composition? Should the Governor appoint with approval by the Senate? Other?

As I understand it, the regulations are mostly Wisconsin State Statute in nature (regulations concerning state procurement etc) and those that say the UW system’s tuition which is understood as one tuition percentage for the system. Additionally, I thought the Chancellor had posted a list of statutes concerning state regulations online, but I can’t find it now.  I’ll look again.

We had a discussion regarding the governing model for the new program at the state-wide student government event, United Council, this past weekend.  Generally, the conversation seemed to be that if we had a Board of Trustees or Visitors, then we would require two or more student seats depending on the size of the board.  The Chancellor has indicated her support for something like this.  Also, we would like them to be internally elected, however, most students aren’t willing to have a conversation about this without first having a model in place, etc.


Please ask any more questions you may have in the comments, and I will do my best to provide my analysis about the issue and relay anything that I may have heard, encountered.



We’re Focused on Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

From the UW System’s President’s most recent Letter to the Editor in the Journal Sentinal:

Entrepreneurial UW faculty members today are winning more outside grants and contracts, engaging in cutting-edge research that requires very little state taxpayer support. In fact, academic research and development is now a $1.1 billion industry in Wisconsin – one that helps create well-paying private-sector jobs all across the state.

UW System’s research capabilities can contribute to Walker’s goal of creating 250,000 new jobs. In the near term, these jobs are for researchers paid with non-state funds and construction workers building new UW laboratories and clinics. Long-term gains will come from new well-paying jobs in the industries of the future. To reach that prosperous future – one we want for our children and grandchildren in Wisconsin – the state and the UW will have to step up to this challenge together.

With a Republican governor and a Republican controlled congress, its important to stress the economic impact of higher ed.  Its an investment.  You have to know your audience, or at least know who’s in control.

New Path For Wisconsin?

Most of you know, Brandon and I are at the United Council convention and we have had several substantive conversations regarding the New Badger Partnership and more broadly, flexibilities for the UW system.

I have another NBP post coming up on Monday that will cover a couple points brought up by a comment in my previous post, and other criticisms of the proposal overall. This one is more about the conversations of the past day or so.

  • The Whole UW System is Seeking Flexibilities : The NBP differs in wanting tuition autonomy as well.  System would love freedom from procurement contracting and allowing single-prime construction contracts but that’s not a reality right now.  This isn’t a totally contentious issue across the state.
  • Some Schools May Close: With stiff competition from technical colleges that can offer a cheaper tuition bill and comparable transfer credits (not to mention a governor who came from tech schools) it’s a distinct possibility that a UW College campus will close.  UW-Medford closed in 1981, and with 26 schools ranging from 350 students to 42,000, there may be room to cut in the eyes of the legislature.
  • Shared Governance NEEDS to be assured: 36.09(5) is paramount in all these discussions.  We need real Shared Governance (see my post here) and not convenience Shared Governance.


That’s where the similarities in arguments ended.  There was lots of talk regarding system unity, student access, and rising tuition with a obvious fault line between students who felt massive organizing would work and students who felt that it wouldn’t change much in terms of funding.

Examples included the United Kingdom protests that resulted in massive actions (but still a hike in fees), the University of California student take over (which resulted in a large hike in fees), and the late 1990’s United Council actions that resulted in a tuition freeze (followed by a 20% jump in tuition the next year).  The results of these are debatable in success, certainly.

Overall, I don’t think there is a united system opinion (not that Madison itself is even remotely united in opinion) which means things will likely continue in fits and bursts as various groups gain momentum.


More to come regarding Shared Governance!


A “United” United Council?

Sam Seering, a United Council board member and ASM’s Legislative Affairs Vice Chair for City Affairs, has a new blog.  In a recent post about United Council, he mentions the specific problems of the New Badger Partnership as they pertain to a state-wide student organization such as UC:

What role would United Council play in this new system? In my recent discussions and experiences with UC staff it would appear that there would be no impact because UC is only tied to the Board of Regents, not through state statutes, but through policy. Upon closer examination though, cracks begin to appear in the foundation of our state-wide student group. With some campuses, such as Madison and Milwaukee, gaining new independence, students at those schools may begin to isolate themselves from other campuses like their administrations would do. With the two largest campuses nonexistent in the organization, larger cracks begin to form. Less funding would come into UC and staff and activities would have to be cut back out of necessity. Further isolation may be created when the remaining campuses differ on where the limited resources should be invested. A total collapse of the network of student bodies is not out of the realm of possibility, given enough time under this plan.

This cannot be allowed to happen.

But what Seering fails to see is that this has already happened–and in fact, its still happening.  Its no secret that I have been one of the biggest critics of the UC structure, and this is exactly why.  The organization spends much of its time trying to fill these “cracks,” making it wholly ineffective at doing its duty as a state-wide institution.  The only solution?  Truly uniting the body using Student Representatives (the Presidents and VPs from each school) and oversight from actually elected members from the individual campuses.  AJ has already covered this earlier today.

A New Constitution for the Students of Wisconsin

Some of you may be familiar with United Council, the quasi state-wide student government that handles statewide policy and brings students from across the state.  Even less of you are familiar with Student Representatives, the body composed of the President and Vice-President of all 26 UW schools which meets to discuss grander issues such as Shared Governance policies and enforcing other system-wide policies.

Long has there been a discrepancy between what United Council is doing and what the Reps are doing.  United Council has lacked the institutional legitimacy that Reps has and can lead to conflict between the bodies and the individual student governments.

Last year, 16th Session Chair Tyler Junger and Vice-Chair Tom Templeton led the charge to write a new governing document that would bind the two organizations together.  Essentially allowing the Presidents/Vice-Presidents to override decisions of United Council and provide more accountability.  In October, Brandon and I voted to approve the most recent draft which was then forwarded to President Riley.

The important changes of this draft that affect us are:

  • Mandatory Membership: No longer can UW-River Falls hitch a free ride off the backs of Madison and Eau Claire students that fund United Council.  We all benefit from advocacy at the capital and we all should pay for it.  The free rider problem needs to be eliminated.  Along with this comes the benefit of NO MORE REFERENDUMS! This is a colossal improvement that will allow staff much more time to actually do work and not worry about membership.
  • Student Representatives Review: The Presidents/Vice-Presidents should know their own student governments and campuses well and should provide oversight for United Council’s Board of Directors which has occasionally taken stances that don’t mesh with the student governments and another check on their (and staff’s!) power.
  • Appointments to Statewide Committees: We don’t have statewide Shared Governance right now.  This document gives the body the opportunity to actually make these appointments and represent students.

I’m sure there will be more changes to this document as we’re discussing it again today.  President Riley was concerned about the mandatory membership so we will be reviewing that point as well.


More updates this weekend.


New Badger Partnership: What We Know

There has been a lot of speculation/commentary/support/anger over the phrase “New Badger Partnership” but I’m going to try to set the record straight in some areas and just point out what we do and don’t know right now.

Myths to be dispelled:

  • This is Chancellor Martin’s proposal: FALSE, there is no proposal.  There is a list of statutes that restrict our operations and the Chancellor has indicated that the University would like more leeway with those.  That’s it.  There is no fleshed out Master Plan for language changes, that’s the Governor’s gambit still. We will know A LOT more after he presents the budget on February 22nd.
  • This is Privatization:  Mostly FALSE.  The actual funding sources don’t really change all that much.  We’re already funded privately by a good amount so using this term is both inaccurate and fear-mongering. There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the NBP but don’t use misleading terminology to advance the cause.
  • ASM is in the Admin’s lap: FALSE.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked Dean Berquam in the eye and demanded that students continue to be involved. I can’t tell you how often Brandon has told the Chancellor that Chapter 36 in the state statutes ( 36.09(5) for those unfamiliar) cannot be touched by the changes.  We’ve assured that students won’t be screwed by a repeal of Shared Governance.  This is our most powerful tool and we are continuing to exert it.


  • Tuition will rise: With or without the NBP, tuition will rise. Governor Walker and the Legislature are slashing all around and the UW WILL HAVE TUITION INCREASES.  That’s just a fact so let’s not make THAT point central in this debate.
  • Shared Governance will be committed to:  Obviously, without a specific proposal from the Governor, we have no idea how the new model will look so we can’t plan definitely for what will happen.  We do, however, have commitments from the Chancellor and the Dean of Students that should the University gain unilateral tuition power, STUDENTS WILL BE APPOINTED TO THIS BOARD VIA SHARED GOVERNANCE.
  • State agencies that have asked for MORE money are being shut out:  According to a meeting I attended yesterday, when speaking about bargaining strategies, Vice-Chancellor Darrell Bazzell spoke of other “State Agencies that have been cut out of the process because they were asking for more money”.  Legislators ARE NOT WILLING TO LISTEN to additional funding proposals.  It’s a do the best with what you have mentality.
  • For more numerical/ specific info check the official site: New Badger Partnership I’ll let you decide what is fact and what is propaganda there, but I think it’s mostly solid.

What we don’t know:

  • The Governor’s Budget: the Governor will announce his budget on February 22nd and then we will have a few weeks to digest this and prepare an actual proposal/response.
  • The new structure: As frightening as it is, we won’t know the new structure until the budget is released with its changes.  AFTER the budget comes out, we can assure our specific places in the Shared Gov hierarchy but before then, it’s just a mental exercise that doesn’t accomplish much.
  • How Seg Fees will be treated:  ASM will be making (new legislation next week) the protection of our Segregated Fee reserves a top priority.  They shouldn’t be taken by the state but until they are reclassified or legally protected, they can be swept up, like what happened two years ago.

So there is a very brief outline hopefully without too much bias in one way or the other.  Educate yourselves on this matter. Read the paper.  Know what fellow students are thinking.

More to come


NPS: Not Quite Right on this One

North Park Street, normally on top of its game, seems a little misguided on this one.  Kurt has published two what he would consider “WTFs” on the new ASM Government Relations Advisor.  The first is merely a questioning of something we questioned very heavily ourselves: should we prefer to hire someone who has experience with higher ed from a student perspective?  We ultimately decided that, yes, it should give the edge to someone who has experience from that perspective, but the position wouldn’t necessitate that.
The second:
WTF #2: However, this position will not directly voice the student opinion or assume the opinion of ASM, his/her responsibility is only to open the door and make it easier for students to do make their voices heard.
– So, this is a doorman position?  Why not call it a frickin’ butler and pay minimum wage?
– Do we really believe that a position designed to interact with legislators can be effective if it cannot “voice the student opinion?!”
– This is a really, really, really dumb line.  I mean, not quite as dumb as sticking a metal fork into an electric socket, but it’s pretty close.
– The fix is quite simple: Take out this line!
Okay, I get it.  You don’t like the open the door line.  But in truth, we can’t pay someone on the staff to lobby with the assumption that they represent students.  Unlike United Council, staff don’t run ASM (there, I said it), and we always need to be careful about what authority and assumptions we grant to staff.  I wouldn’t want our admin staff going to UW administrators and saying that “students think this” or “students think that” without explicit instruction to do so.  The same logic holds here; the lobbyist advocate advisor is not to assume or even represent the student opinion on an issue without specific consent from ASM leadership and the Legislative Affairs committee.  In an ideal world, a student would accompany this position on every trip to the capital, but in the event that doesn’t happen, we at least can be assured that they aren’t mucking up the opinions of ASM and are more concentrated on building the repertoire necessary to effectively lobby the state.
[Edited: on January 27th, 10:30 am for grammatical mistakes.]