Shared Governance at UW-Madison — In Jeopardy?

November 12, 2012 | Blog

Since last week’s Faculty Senate meeting, my email inbox has grown cluttered with letters from faculty, staff, and students who are experiencing violations of shared governance at UW-Madison.  All are afraid to speak out with their names included, fearful of responses from the Administration.  I can’t tell you how upsetting this is, especially given my own Biddy battles during the term I was up for tenure.

In any case, one brave soul has decided to allow me to quote from his letter.  I hope you’ll consider his words (below) and then decide to join us next week for a discussion of the past and future of shared governance at Madison.

There will be a FORUM on these issues held on Monday November 19 from 5-630 pm in the Wisconsin Idea Room of the School of Education. Sponsors include WUU, TAA, WISCAPE, and UFAS.  You can rsvp here.

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Hi Sara,

The biggest issue for me now is the apparent demolition of faculty governance. Wisconsin has a long history of egalitarian democracy and shared governance. It’s one of our hallmarks compared to other universities.

The HR redesign process has been most offensive to me in its top-down dictatorial nature. It’s like someone asking for you to sign a blank check and saying “trust me” when asked what dollar amount and payee will be written in.

That’s like when Noah Feinstein says “the devils that lurk in the details yet to come.”

At the last faculty meeting, after the sham representation we received from the University Committee, I thought this whole vote is a sham. They are saying “it’s like a courtesy we are being asked to render an opinion, but don’t expect to play more than an advisory role.”

My immediate thought was to make a motion to postpone so they have to show their cards and reveal it’s a sham. When Chad Goldberg beat me too it, and so eloquently too, and you made the ten-faculty-needed-for-a-paper-ballot motion — well it was one of my happiest days at a faculty senate meeting in my life!

So, I think the bigger issue here is the move by the administration to subvert faculty governance. More people will be outraged by that that the HR redesign.

I liked Noah’s statement that faculty governance is the ability “to approve or reject policies – not merely offer advice and input to some uncertain end.”

That to me is the crux of the issue.

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