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UW-Superior Administration Knowingly Ignored Shared Governance Procedures in Program Suspensions and Warnings

Superior, WI – The University of Wisconsin Superior AFT Local #6514 has released emails, gained through an open records request, that give a detailed picture of UWS administration’s actions before and after the surprise suspensions of 24 programs on October 31, 2017. These actions set off a series of contentious forums, student protests, and formal expressions of disapproval by various stakeholders that continue to this day.

“We asked for this publicly-available information to investigate the possibility of filing a legal challenge,” said Deb Augsburger, UWS Local 6514 President. “Though we have cause to believe that the administration did not meet their legal obligation to consult with shared governance, a lawsuit might be long and expensive.  After consulting with numerous colleagues across the campus community, we firmly believe that the faculty, staff, and students deserve to know what we found through our open records request.”

Key points from the recently obtained emails:

  • The UWS administration failed to consult with faculty governance, despite the UW System legal counsel advising them that consultation was obligatory.
  • Emails from UW System the afternoon before the suspensions confirmed the Chancellor’s ultimate authority to suspend programs, but also spelled out the need for consultation with shared governance. (This consultation had not occurred.) Despite this, administration went ahead with the suspensions the next day.  [See October 30 emails.]
  • The UWS administrators gave no formal notice of suspensions to UW System in advance, though UW-System policy requires a four-week notice.  [See emails from October 30 and November 2][1].
  • Formal notification of the suspensions was supplied to UW-System on November 3 in response to a request by a System administrator who learned about the suspension from media accounts. [See November 3 and November 2 emails.]
  • A formal document containing a detailed rationale for the suspension of each program was only produced a week after the suspensions.
  • Overall, a look at the emails suggests that the sudden suspension of the programs was a surprise not only to UWS students, staff, and community members, but to the UW-System personnel that corresponded with them, who expressed concern about consultation with shared governance and lack of notice.

 “A clear pattern of ignoring shared governance has developed across the UW System,” said AFT-Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas.  “This has led to hasty decision making with zero input from faculty, staff, or students.  It’s time the administration start listening to the real stakeholders—faculty, staff, and students.”

All the emails referenced in this release can be found here

[1] In announcing the suspensions, the Chancellor and Provost said that enrollment was closed, effective immediately, and only relented after student protest, and then only for an additional week, not the four weeks that would have been expected under System policy

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