CHANCELLOR LOBBIES STUDENTS TO LOBBY CAPITAL

April 7, 2011 | Blog

She must be at her wits end. Why else would Chancellor Martin take what could easily be a completely illegal action–lobbying her employees AND HER STUDENTS, using public email, to lobby politicians? I understand that in the past she has urged support of her initiatives by distributing cookies to students on Bascom Mall and scaring her deans with threats that she might be fired if her initiatives didn’t pass. This, however, takes the cake.

I seriously thought it was a scam when I first got it. I deeply wish it were– scare tactics and coercive actions do not a leader make.

And by the way, here are the rules according to UW System:

“…Certain university employees holding highly visible positions, or those who serve in a liaison capacity with state and federal legislators, should be aware of the ethical and practical consequences of political campaign involvement as well as the basic legal issues, such as the application of state and federal lobbying rules to the activities of state university employees….because of restrictions on state lobbying and personal use of state resources, individual employees should not use state work time or state resources to engage in political activities unless expressly designated with this responsibility on behalf of the institution….For example, advocating for governmental action or legislative change, at a local, state or federal level, may be political although not related to a political campaign. “

From: Chancellor Biddy Martin
Subject: Update on New Badger Partnership
Date: April 6, 2011 3:30:19 PM CDT
To: Sara Goldrick-Rab
Reply-To: Chancellor Biddy Martin
Security: Signed (Chancellor Biddy Martin)

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

I write with an important update on the New Badger Partnership and also with a call for action.

Last Thursday, I attended the higher-education briefing of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance at the State Capitol. UW System President Kevin Reilly asked several chancellors from other campuses to make a case for the new System plan for increased flexibilities. The co-chairs of the joint committee then asked me to answer questions about the proposal that is already in the budget bill — a new public-authority model for UW-Madison. I was happy to do so, and I believe I was able to clarify a number of misperceptions about our proposal. Near the end of the meeting, Senator Luther Olsen urged UW System and UW-Madison to work together and find a plan that would work for both parties.

The following day, in response to Senator Olsen’s request, I invited my fellow chancellors and President Reilly to meet for a discussion of a third option. The invitation included a draft amendment to the governor’s bill that would provide much-needed flexibilities to the other campuses. It also included an offer to be open to their new ideas about how to move forward. The amendment would add flexibilities for the other campuses and System without subtracting from what UW-Madison would gain through the existing budget bill. Prior to issuing the invitation, I spoke with several chancellors who expressed interest in
discussing the merits of this approach.

Some have already asked why the suggested amendment did not compromise on public-authority status for UW-Madison. I believe UW-Madison needs all the flexibility that the governor’s budget provides if we are to continue competing with the best research universities in the world. There is a clear nationwide trend toward differentiation in higher education. The American Association of Universities, an organization of top research universities in the country, has on its meeting agenda for next week a discussion of the urgent need to preserve the quality of public flagship universities. If we can’t preserve their
strengths with innovations in our mode of operating, it will harm not only UW-Madison and other great research institutions, but also the states in which they are located and the nation as a whole.

President Reilly sent an email announcing that System would need to respond with a written analysis before discussions with other chancellors could take place. He then sent a System-wide communication promoting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership, the details of which will be presented to the Board of Regents for the first time this week. I asked for a brief period of time at this week’s Regents’ meeting to present the amendment to the existing budget bill. I was again denied the request on the grounds that System first needs to provide a written analysis of our tentative proposal.

System’s new plan does not come close to doing for UW-Madison what public-authority status would. First, with one exception in facilities management, the plan does not delegate any new statutory authority or flexibility to UW-Madison
or to any other campus. President Reilly’s explanation of the plan states that System and the Regents will “press down” the flexibilities they gain, where appropriate. Second, there is, therefore, no acknowledgement of the unique needs, competitive position or the capacities of a major research university. Third, our legal staff is skeptical about the claim that the university system could remain a state agency and get its non-tax-dollar revenue off the books. Public-authority status for UW-Madison would give us ownership of our non-state-tax-dollar funding, allowing us to use it flexibly and avoid having it swept. Fourth, the statute changes proposed by System do not allow for a redesign of our personnel system. If successful, it would introduce some helpful changes, but does not go nearly as far as public authority does.

In response to concrete concerns from other chancellors and the public about the future of transfer agreements, research collaborations, shared infrastructure and a shared brand, we have responded with Memoranda of Understanding that
pledge not only the continuation, but also the enhancement, of our collaborations. To those who say we would not maintain transfer agreements over time, we have pointed out that our most robust transfer programs are with Madison College, direct campus-to-campus agreements. We do not need yet another layer of administration to ensure that we do what is mutually beneficial and good for the citizens of Wisconsin.

To those who have claimed that we would raise tuition higher than it would be raised within the System, we have shown that the increase for next year would be the same. In response to those who worry about prestige, we have ensured, from
the outset, that we continue to share the name “University of Wisconsin” with every other campus. To those who have said that the terms of the members of the new board are too short, we have agreed and begun work on an amendment to lengthen those terms.

We have spent well over a year developing the analysis, strategy and tactics that would create what is no doubt a once-in-a-lifetime chance for UW-Madison and for the other campuses. For many years, the System and Madison chancellors have talked about the need for flexibility. Making the case in a holistic plan and getting it into the governor’s budget have created an opportunity that I do not believe we should forego. The most effective approach to getting all the campuses the flexibilities they need would be to support what is already in the governor’s budget — amended to provide other System campuses the flexibilities and forms of local decision-making that make sense for their institutions — and then to move forward together to persuade the public and the Legislature of the need for what we have fought so hard to obtain.

During the past several months, I have tried to proactively communicate as we move forward in what I believe is a critical chapter in UW-Madison history. I have continually asked for your feedback. But I am also asking you for action. If you agree with me that the New Badger Partnership and the public-authority model are crucial to the future success of UW-Madison, I urge you to express your support more openly and vigorously. There are those who do not want this to succeed, and they are reaching out to the Legislature. We need you to do the same.

Here [linked] is contact information for the Joint Committee on Finance, President Reilly, and the Board of Regents. It can also be found at budget.wisc.edu.

Time is of the essence. Ask for their support. Please note that I am asking you to speak out as individuals, citizens and taxpayers, and not on behalf of the university. With your own time and resources, tell them we need their support of the public-authority model in the current state budget, not only for the good of UW-Madison, but also for the good of the state.

Chancellor Biddy Martin

2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Carmen

    April 8, 2011

    The TAA's response to this issue: http://taa-madison.org/letter-to-chancellor-2011-04-07/

  2. Reply

    Anonymous

    April 8, 2011

    She's desperate in her attempt to destroy UW Madison. She needs to resign.


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