Superior, WI – On Halloween, faculty, staff, and students at the University of Wisconsin in Superior were blindsided by the administration’s blanket announcement to suspend nine majors, fifteen minors, and one masters program. Fifteen additional programs were put on “warning” for suspension. These program suspensions are the latest in a string of brazen attacks on public higher education in Wisconsin, and have sparked student protests and an online petition that has garnered more than 5,300 signatures.
In a series of forums and a public announcement, the UW-Superior administration justified the suspensions as limiting choices to help students graduate on time. Students, faculty, and staff were not consulted on the program suspensions, nor given the opportunity to contribute to the process. As a result of the recent outcry, the administration has extended the enrollment period for the suspended programs, but has refused to rescind or re-evaluate their decision.
“This represents a radical alteration of the campus mission, which is to provide a range of high-quality educational opportunities that meet the needs of the region,” stated UW-Superior Local 6514 president, Deborah Augsburger. “We call on the administration to withdraw these suspensions and involve faculty and students in the decision-making process.”
AFT-Wisconsin President and former Superior public school teacher, Kim Kohlhaas, condemned the top-down move by the administration. “UW-Superior Chancellor Wachter has ignored academic norms and disrespected students throughout this process. This shameful move has attracted national and statewide attention and has done irreparable harm to the UW-Superior community.”
These suspensions reflect a broader effort by the Walker administration to starve the UW System of resources and to pursue ideological policies that seek to shrink the mission and reach of the UW. Currently, 16 out of 18 UW Regents are appointed by Governor Walker, and recent administrative decisions to rescind tenure protections and to reorganize the two year colleges were enacted without any input from faculty, staff, or students.
The UWS Faculty and Academic Staff Union, AFT Local 6514, have endorsed a student-initiated petition opposing these program suspensions. The petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/rwachter-uwsuper-edu-opposition-for-the-suspension-of-major-and-minor-programs-at-uw-superior