Contact: Aaron Bibb, Communications Director, AFT-Wisconsin, (608) 345-7542, firstname.lastname@example.org
UW SYSTEM FACULTY REACT TO NO CONFIDENCE RESOLUTION; FACULTY SENATES AT OTHER UW SYSTEM INSTITUTIONS FOLLOW SUIT
Madison, WI: Following the introduction of a UW-Madison faculty senate resolution of no confidence in UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents, faculty around the UW System were vocal in their call for accountability at the top of the System. Resolutions similar to the one introduced at UW-Madison by Chad Alan Goldberg, professor of sociology and president of AFT local 223, United Faculty and Academic Staff, were quickly introduced at UW-Milwaukee and UW-River Falls, with discussions underway at many other System institutions as well. Members of the AFT-Wisconsin Higher Education Council have also created a petition at change.org through which all Wisconsin residents and UW System community members can express their lack of confidence in System leadership.
“I’m strongly in support of the UW-Madison resolution,” said James Oberly, a professor of history at UW-Eau Claire and a member of AFT local 6481, United Faculty and Academic Staff of UW-Eau Claire. Oberly, a past recipient of the UW System Excellence in Teaching Award, continued, “The UW System needs a president who makes the case to the governor and the legislature for the importance of excellence in teaching, research, and service and secures the public funding needed to provide a high quality education. Our present course leads to a UW System declining in quality. It worsens the trend of shifting the cost of higher education onto students and their families.” Oberly added, “I find it especially disappointing that after President Cross solicited presentations from each campus chancellor about the impact of the budget cuts, he interrupted them with a dime-store buzzer trinket and canceled their planned presentations to the Regents. The Board of Regents, the governor, the legislature, and all Wisconsin citizens need to know what’s happening to the UW System, and if our own President won’t make the case, we need a President who will.”
Beth L. Lueck, Professor of English and president of UW-Whitewater AAUP, agreed with Oberly about the impact of the cuts to the UW System on students and families. “When other Midwestern states like Minnesota are increasing funding to higher education,” she noted, “making college more affordable for low- and middle-income students, the Wisconsin legislature and governor slashed funding to the UW System. We need leaders who will stand up for Wisconsin families instead,” added Lueck. “In light of recent events, this is why we are also exploring a no-confidence resolution in Ray Cross at UW-Whitewater.”
“It’s telling that Representative Jim Steineke and Senator Steve Nass have already threatened further attacks on the UW System as a result of this resolution,” said Richard Leson, an associate professor of art history at UW-Milwaukee and president of The Association of University of Wisconsin Professionals, AFT local 3535. “These threats show how desperate Republicans are to draw attention away from their long, continued assault on higher education in Wisconsin. The solution isn’t to keep our heads down and stay quiet to avoid future attacks, as President Cross has advised. Republican politicians like Steve Nass are going to attack us no matter what we do, which is why my fellow union members and I will continue to advocate strongly for UW-Milwaukee and the UW System and pursue a vote of no confidence at UW-Milwaukee, whatever threats anti-education politicians might issue. We should expect no less from the UW System President and Board of Regents.”
In response to the System-wide support for the Madison resolution, Goldberg said, “I’m encouraged to see that so many faculty and staff around the System are standing up to these legislators’ attempts to silence our voices. If legislators like Representative Steineke and Senator Nass follow through on these threats, it will demonstrate precisely what legislators, Regents, and President Cross have repeatedly denied: that academic freedom is truly under assault. Discontinuing academic programs on the basis of non-educational considerations, eroding academic due process in ways that make it harder to attract and retain the best faculty, and curtailing or circumventing the voice of faculty in academic and educational activities all jeopardize the quality of students’ education. This is especially true in the context of large budget cuts to the UW System. The faculty are standing up for Wisconsin’s students, who deserve better.”