Documents Suggest Wisconsin Mission Overhaul Planned

February 6, 2015

Governor Scott Walker's effort to dramatically change the University of Wisconsin System’s mission was seemingly premeditated and hardly an accident, local newspaper reports suggested Thursday.

Walker faced intense criticism Wednesday for trying to remove key parts of the Wisconsin university system’s mission from state code, but he blamed the whole thing on a “drafting error.” A draft of the all-important state budget eliminated the university’s mission to “search for truth,” “improve the human condition” and “extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses.” The mission is known as the Wisconsin Idea.

But documents that show Walker administration officials gave “detailed, line-by-line instructions” about how to remove that very language, The Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Days before Walker released the draft, a University of Wisconsin official expressed concerns about the changes, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Walker on Thursday continued to blame the changes on happenstance, a version of events that would allow him to appear as if he was not retreating in the face of widespread criticism. “Clearly, changing the Wisconsin Idea serves no purpose,” he said in a statement. “That is why I made it clear on Wednesday that we would not change it in the budget. It is not a change of heart. It was a simple miscommunication during the natural back-and-forth of this process.”

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