UW-System president Ray Cross pledged to resign his position in the event that he is unable to secure a reduction in the Governors proposed $300 million budget cut or to maintain fundamental chapter 36 protections such as tenure and shared governance he said today when addressing the campus at UW-Milwaukee
Cross’ remark was prompted by a question of his support for tenure and shared governance and a proposition for his resignation under the aforementioned circumstances.
“Will you pledge here today, that if you fail to secure a substantial reduction in the proposed budget cuts and if you prove unable to protect tenure, shared governance, and academic freedom for all University of Wisconsin universities and colleges, will you pledge here today, to resign your position as president of the University of Wisconsin system?” asked Richard Grusin, a professor of 21st century studies at UWM.
To which Cross replied, “Yes.”
Cross’s support of the chapter 36 protections of shared governance and tenure was called into question by several members of the audience. Cross iterated his support of the tenure and shared governance to those in attendance stating that they were “fundamental to higher education”.
According to Cross, the ongoing advocacy efforts are showing promise among the legislation. He stated that many of the legislators he spoke with are supportive of a reduction to the Governor’s proposed $300 million cut.
“I have not met one legislator who at this point is not sympathetic to our request to reduce the budget cut,” said Cross.
Cross voiced his dismay with the Governor’s proposition to provide the system with flexibility “in exchange” for the proposed $300 million cut.
“Either these flexibilities are good for the University or they aren’t,” said Cross
Cross stated that the proposed flexibility in areas such as procurement and bonding will not provide the system with savings anywhere near the proposed $300 million cut. According to Cross, the possible savings from the flexibility are more likely $15 to $20 million “at best”.
According to Cross, the “very important” flexibility that may coincide with the formation of a public authority could be secured in state statute without the formation of the authority.
“Can we capture those flexibilities without the public authority, absolutely.” said Cross.
Cross spoke about the importance of the dedicated funding stream, which he referred to as “one of the gems inside the budget”.
According to Cross, “The dedicated funding stream has the potential to stabilize revenues coming to the university, make them predictable and stable.”
The dedicated funding stream would take the “critical” base funding and allow and annual increase to system funding according to the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI is an index of the variation of prices for consumer retail merchandise and other goods.
According to Cross, in 1998 the funding for UW-System operations was $799 million dollars, however, today funding for standard operations is $793 million. During that period there were increases in tuition to offset the reduction in revenues, stated Cross.
“I think we have to find a way to secure funding, stable funding, so that we can adequately compensate our employees.” said Cross.
Cross stated that there are no assurances that future legislatures will honor a commitment to any mechanism designed to ensure a stable funding stream.
Photos by John J. Ward