Wisconsin Madison Senate to Consider No-Confidence Resolution in System President, Board

April 25, 2016

The University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Faculty Senate will vote on a resolution expressing no confidence in UW System President Ray Cross and the system’s Board of Regents on May 2. Among numerous alleged missteps by Cross and the board, the resolution criticizes them for supporting a new systemwide layoff policy for tenured professors that many faculty members said fell short of providing real tenure protections in the event of program closures for budgetary and academic concerns. The board also approved changes to a Madison-specific policy that many professors said watered down tenure protections. The new policies stem from the Wisconsin Legislature’s elimination of tenure from state statute last year.

The no-confidence resolution, which is still being finalized, was written by Chad Alan Goldberg, a professor of sociology, faculty senator and president of American Federation of Teachers-affiliated United Faculty and Academic Staff. A current draft says, in part, that system leaders’ actions “have damaged the reputation of [Madison] as a great state university that encourages continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found” and that the “the erosion of academic due process and the circumventing of shared governance jeopardize the quality of students’ education.”

The document already has been endorsed by the president of the Madison advocacy chapter of the American Association of University Professors, David Vanness, associate professor of population health sciences. Vanness said in an email to colleagues on Sunday that the case against Cross “is clear and convincing. … His actions at the Board of Regents meeting in March conclusively demonstrated that he has played a direct role in bringing about the weakening of tenure and shared governance as a means of giving the administration ‘flexibility’ and ‘tools’ to set aside tenure and trammel shared governance in order to deal with continuing budget cuts.”

Alex Hummel, university system spokespeson, said via email that the vote "is a faculty matter, and President Cross remains focused on helping the [system's] institutions maintain a world-class education."


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