Revelations: The Cloak Has Been Lifted

Edit: 2 am, February 17th.  I wrote this in a fit of passion and the language is strong.  I’ve had time to rationally think everything through and I think my feelings are more aligned with Erik Paulson’s.  Read his comment down below (it’s long) for that.  I was just trying to express my professional disappointment in the entire process; I feel that I have been slighted by administrators whom I trusted. So if some of this reads as a little bitter, it probably is.


Boom.  Whether members of ASM have been in support of the New Badger Partnership or in opposition, we have been conversing the past few months as if the fate of this was in the hands of the governor and the Chancellor didn’t really know what would happen.

Think again.

Earlier tonight, a document was posted on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online dated from JANUARY 7th from the Chancellor to the head of the Department of Administration outlining the Chancellor’s proposal for the Badger Partnership. Here are my highlights and comments that I feel are most important.  I’ll update more tomorrow for sure.

First, a preface. I’m NOT opposed to most of the details in here. In fact, if things happened identical to what the document said, we would have a fairly good system, I feel.

WHAT I AM PISSED ABOUT is that we we’re deceived.  Chancellor Martin, Dean Berquam, Vice-Chancellor Bazzell, among others have each personally and directly misled top ASM leadership repeatedly.

This is a BLATANT slap in the face, as we had been operating under the idea of “good faith” conversations regarding this proposal.  Clearly, “good faith” left the picture long before ASM held a forum for the Chancellor, and before our Working Group really even met with them.

Words cannot describe my immense dissatisfaction on behalf of students. We have been duped.


“I appreciate knowing that Governor Scott Walker wants to provide flexibility and intends to propose public authority status for UW-Madison.” -Wow, this is quite the bombshell with all members of administration playing dumb since we started asking in December and through the time that this was sent.  We were either lied to or misled the entire time.  I. Am. Livid.

So next she goes into various changes that will affect our governance:

“Institutional Governing Body” (Board of Trustees essentially)

“Members: Would be appointed by both the governor and UW-Madison. The majority of members would be representative of UW-Madison constituencies.”– this is great news actually.  The Chancellor has used constituencies consistently to refer to the Shared Governance groups on campus so this mean students on the body. the ambiguity is whether these students are appointed through ASM, elected, or what.

“Current powers by the Board of Regents that would be adopted by UW-Madison include, but are not limited to:

  • Authority to enact policies and promulgate rules to govern UW-Madison
  • Authority to allocate funds and adopt a budget for UW-Madison
  • Authority to promulgate rules under ch. 227
  • Police authority
  • Condemnation authority
  • Authority to set and manage tuition”

So obviously, this contains one of the most controversial provisions: the right to set and manage tuition.  On the upside, students would have a voice in this decision due to the composition of the board, however whether we want that or not is debatable within ASM.


UW-Madison would maintain the existing level of GPR appropriations in the form of a block grant which would increase at a rate of 2 percent per year in future biennia.” -This is surprisingly good news.  It was understood that the UW would be slashed in the GPR funding but this seems to indicate that funding is stable at its current level so the massive state defunding of higher ed wouldn’t happen.  This is a good thing.

“Sovereign Immunity

Continued sovereign immunity protection is vital to avoid significantly greater liability exposure for UW-Madison” – My reading is that this protects us from sweeps of our auxiliary funds to balance the budget as the state frequently does and affected our segregated fees last time.

“9. Shared Governance

In keeping with the relevant terms of Chapter 36, UW-Madison would keep its shared governance structure for faculty, academic staff, and students.”-awesome news.  This guarantees we keep our seat at the table.  This is arguably the most important part of our role on campus and we need to ensure it survives through everything.


Now here is where it gets messy.  In Section Two, the document goes over Human Resources policy and has massive implications for the Budget Repair Bill.

“The governing body would create its own independent human-resources system and structure, separate and distinct from the current state system. The governing body would have complete authority to :

  • Recruit, assess, hire, appoint and promote employees;
  • Establish, maintain and modify a job classification and titling system;
  • Set and adjust compensation, based on market, performance and other relevant factors;
  • Administer UW-Madison automated payroll and human resources systems (agreements with UW-System may be required)
  • Create systems to effectively address employee performance and disciplinary issues.

…as applicable, UW-Madison would be the sole collective bargaining agent during negotiations with recognized organizations.”

So the first part is nothing new; a new way to reward teachers based on merit, and allow a more specified system for hiring employees (and from someone going through the process of hiring a full time employee right now, the state’s titling systems SUCK. This actually is a big administrative benefit)

Although, there is also good news for Grad Students. This maintains collective bargaining rights on campus and make it BETTER for the TAA. Just a little bit at least.


More to come in the next day as I’m sure to field calls from a number of administrators and I will be sure to relay our immense anger at being deceived.  This is ridiculous and unacceptable.  Stay tuned for updates.

Once again, words cannot express my frustration right now.  I promise you, students, I will not rest until I get answers for why Chancellor Martin misled us.  This I promise, and if I fail, I will resign my post on Council.  This is the defining issue of my tenure and it needs to be addressed, and addressed NOW.



7 Comments on “Revelations: The Cloak Has Been Lifted”

  1. Brandon W. says:

    As I’m sitting in our office next to you, calling reporters and others about this, I can’t help but think that this doesn’t violate any of the principles of the New Badger Partnership working group. Shared governance, academic freedom, cost to continue, the ability to save money without threat of seizure–its all there.

    What I can’t get over is, if she had already written this back on January 7th, why did the NBP working group even exist? Was it a distraction or simply a means for us to tell her what she already had proposed…

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by acnichols18, Adam Johnson. Adam Johnson said: Everyone who is interested in the Badger Partnership NEEDS to read this right now. #urgent […]

  3. Beth Huang says:

    Crap. Such a long reply …

    When I saw this, I screamed, “What the … ARGGGH!” Despite my outrage, I’m actually not that surprised. It was very hard for me in early December to believe that administration did not have details. I recognize that I am approaching some of the following questions with a lot of hindsight, so these questions might be a little unfair.

    First, why did ASM leadership insist on a “good faith effort” for so long? I thought it was very strange when I went to the meeting with Don Nelson, Lori Berquam, Darrell Bazzell’s chief of staff (Hildebrandt?), and Paul DeLuca that you, Brandon, or Tom (can’t remember who) asked for a “good faith effort” to release NBP documents. There is NO pressure or accountability built into a “good faith effort.” Perhaps its my inner conspiracy theorist coming out, but I do not believe that we can trust our administration to fulfill their end of a “good faith effort.” While I realize that maintaining good relationships between ASM and administration is crucial, I have no idea how ASM leadership has stored so much trust in administration. Did you actually believe Lori Berquam at that early December meeting when she shrugged and said something along the lines of, “We’re in the same boat as you. We don’t know what’s going on”? I didn’t believe them, especially when Provost DeLuca showed us the strategy memos written by Brigid Daly.

    Second, how did this implementation plan not show up in the open records requests? I know Max Love would have jumped up and down and screamed from rooftops if he found this in his open records request. Perhaps he placed the request too early. It’s highly possible. Mehh … I don’t know. If Max placed his request on a day on which he should have received this implementation plan, how much trouble would administration get into for concealing this plan?

    Finally, I have to repeat Brandon’s question: why did they hold the working group meetings if they already knew how they wanted to implement NBP? The only way that I can rationalize administration’s agreement to hold the working group is that they either don’t understand Shared Governance or refuse to respect Shared Governance as the foundation of decision making at UW. It seems like they think that Shared Governance is just for show, a “good faith effort” to democratize decision-making. Chancellor Martin’s rare gaffe in her response to my question at the NBP forum in January in which she said that Shared Governance is always advisory shows her fundamental disrespect for true Shared Governance. What is going to happen to this central tenant of how our university is run when administration gains new powers, or tools, under NBP? Especially after reading this document, I cannot trust that they will respect Shared Governance in the implementation of this plan.

  4. Erik Paulson says:

    Whoa, hold up and remember that keep calm advice. What we have here is a brainstorming document from Biddy et al to the incoming governor, who asked “if we made you public authority, what would you need to be?”

    And, nothing in the answer surprises me. It’s all consistent with the the talking points she’s laid out in the past, though with some new quirks to handle being a PA – things like insurance and sovereign immunity (which basically means that the UW would be immune to certain kinds of lawsuits) – those are things we get automatically by being a state agency, and we’d need to come up with answers if we weren’t.

    As you point out, it’s actually generally good stuff. We keep strong shared governance, a stable GPR funding stream, better job title system.

    Things that you flag as being worrisome are actually, in my opinion, good. The UW Madison as the bargaining agent would be more good than bad – the UW actively recruits TAs and wants to give them a generous contract that makes it easier to get top-level grad students here. The State treats TAs as just another set of workers, where the cost is to be minimized, and who cares how long the process takes. TAs only work here a couple years max – it’s incredibly embarrassing when I have to explain to new grad students that they’re due a raise but they may not get it for two years. Additionally, the State tries its best not to give new benefits to any union, because that typically means they have to give those benefits to every union. With the UW as a negotiating partner, the TAA could ask for things that the state would simply never give.

    It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though – Labor Solidarity is important, and taking the TAA out and negotiating directly with the UW weakens the other unions in the state, and for unions other than the TAA the State is likely a better negotiating partner to keep flexibility in transfers and titles.

    “constituencies” is a broader word than you’re giving it credit. In this case, imagine a board that looks more like the membership of the WAA, UW Foundation, the WARF Board, and the Faculty Senate, with a student or two tacked on for good measurement. The constituencies mean people who represent our mission. I could imagine high profile scientists who might serve on our board who may not have any appointment at UW and may not even live in Wisconsin (in fact, I’d hope we wouldn’t limit our board to Wisconsin residents). I actually like this vision of a governing board, though it’s not perhaps necessary that they supplant the current Board of Regents. The current Board of Regents is not recruited with the mission of UW-Madison (to itself and to the State) exclusively in mind.

    The scan of this document does seem incomplete – where’s the part that “answers [their] questions about what would be required in the way of tuition increases to offset different budget-cutting scenarios”?

    The complete wrong way to read this is as a proposal from Biddy to Walker as to how she’d like to see the NBP implemented. She’s not asking for it to be a public authority, she’s just saying if it was, here are things he’d need to think about. You can be pissed a little bit at Biddy for never saying “Governor Walker has given us at least one different idea of how he may structure the UW”, but who knows what the followup memo was? Because I’m not heartless I can’t claim to completely understand Republican thinking, but trying to simulate a Republican as best I can, I think they’d laugh a lot of what was in this document right out of the room – a guarantee 2% increase in GPR? Condemnation authority? Complete freedom with personel issues but the right to access ETF programs? Access to DoJ lawyers whenever we want? Keeping the construction fee? I just don’t think they’re interested in giving that up, and I highly doubt that exactly this document is what’s going to show up in the bill next week.

    I don’t, and have never, expected Biddy to tell us exactly what the Governor is thinking. I wish that she had at least told us that he had said something – there’s always been an implicit “we’ve had no hints or suggestions at all” when she says “I don’t know what the Governor is going to propose”.

    I do expect her to tell us what she’s telling the Governor in broad strokes, and I this document demonstrates that she has. I expect now that the principles document has been adopted that what she tells him is consistent with that document. Anyone who has followed the NBP is not at all surprised by anything that was included in this memo, nor is it anything that fundamentally alters our mission or character of the campus. I’m not pissed at all.

  5. […] That would pretty much force the Dems back. Hopefully will have more info soon on this issue and new developments in New Badger […]

  6. […] Chancellor sent a secret memo to the Department of Administration ( check it out on Associated Students of Madison blog. Basically the Chancellor has been keeping her […]

  7. […] Rumors have UW Madison receiving a $50 million cut out of that $250 million. Madison has already released how it would handle this cut, but it will be interesting to see how system reacts to the $200 […]

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