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Faculty Senate Minutes 2015-06-09
University of Wisconsin--Madison
shared governance document
9 June, 2015
Chancellor Rebecca Blank called the meeting to order at 3:34 p.m. with 143 voting members present (111 needed for quorum).
Chancellor Blank provided an opening statement then opened the floor to a question period. Several questions and comments followed.
Chancellor Blank reminded those present of Senate procedures and rules.
Professor William Tracy (District 4) moved adoption of the following motion, which was projected in the room and distributed at the door. Motion seconded.
Proposed Resolution of the UW-Madison Faculty Senate
Ample discussion followed.Whereas, in 1848, the citizens of Wisconsin recognized that public higher education is a worthwhileinvestment in the public interest of the State and have since invested billions of their hard-earned dollars increating one of the finest university systems in the world; andWhereas, “academic freedom is the freedom to discuss and present scholarly opinions and conclusionsregarding all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creativeexpression, and to reach conclusions according to one's scholarly discernment. It also includes the right tospeak or write – as a private citizen or within the context of one’s activities as an employee of the university– without institutional discipline or restraint on matters of public concern as well as on matters related toprofessional duties, the functioning of the university, and university positions and policies” (Faculty Policiesand Procedures 8.01.B.); andWhereas, in 1894, the Board of Regents proclaimed that "Whatever may be the limitations that trammelinquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage thatcontinual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found”; andWhereas, in 1964, the Board of Regents wrote “In adopting this codification of the rules and regulations ofthe University of Wisconsin relating to tenure, the Regents reaffirm their historic commitment to security ofprofessorial tenure and to the academic freedom it is designed to protect. These rules and regulations arepromulgated in the conviction that in serving a free society the scholar must himself be free. Only thus can heseek the truth, develop wisdom and contribute to society those expressions of the intellect that ennoblemankind. The security of the scholar protects him not only against those who would enslave the mind but alsoagainst anxieties, which divert him from his role as scholar and teacher. The concept of intellectual freedomis based upon confidence in man's capacity for growth in comprehending the universe and on faith inunshackled intelligence. The university is not partisan to any party or ideology, but it is devoted to thediscovery of truth and to understanding the world in which we live. The Regents take this opportunity torededicate themselves to maintaining in this university those conditions which are indispensable for theflowering of the human mind”; andWhereas, UW System’s universities are devoted to the search for truth, which underlies every purpose of theUW system. These purposes include the development of human resources, the discovery and disseminationof knowledge and the extension and application of such knowledge everywhere within the borders of the stateand beyond; andWhereas, Omnibus Motion #521, passed by the Joint Committee on Finance on May 29, 2015, contains initem 39 the following language that would redefine tenure, “Specify that the board may layoff or terminate atenured faculty member, or layoff or terminate a probationary faculty member prior to the end of his or herappointment, when such an action is deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision requiringprogram discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or redirection,” thereby eviscerating the fundamentalprotections of academic freedom afforded by tenure and negating recognized tenure provisions followed byall major US universities, including our peers; andWhereas, Omnibus Motion #521, passed by the Joint Committee on Finance on May 29, 2015, contains initem 39 the following language redefining shared governance such that “the budget or program decisionsmade to discontinue, curtail, modify, or redirect a program would not be subject to review in the hearing” bythe faculty hearing committee; andWhereas, Omnibus Motion #521, passed by the Joint Committee on Finance on May 29, 2015, contains initem 35 language redefining shared governance such that “the faculty of each institution would have theprimary responsibility for advising the Chancellor regarding academic and educational activities andfaculty personnel matters subject to the responsibilities and powers of the Board, President and Chancellor”[emphasis added] as opposed to deciding such matters as under current law; andWhereas, Omnibus Motion #521, passed by the Joint Committee on Finance on May 29, 2015, contains initem 38 language redefining shared governance such that “with regard to the responsibilities of the faculty,academic staff, and students of each institution, ‘subject to’ means ‘subordinate to’”; andWhereas, regent and system policy cannot supersede state statute; andWhereas, if adopted, such statutory legislative language would conflict with any regent or institutionalpolicies recognizing tenure and shared governance principles that would be recognized as adequate by theAmerican Association of University Professors; andWhereas, if adopted, the proposed language will lead to the demoralization and/or departure of substantialnumbers of faculty, will have negative repercussions for recruiting outstanding new faculty, and willseriously damage UW‐Madison’s national competitiveness and the faculty’s ability to grow the economicfuture of the state and to serve its students and its citizens, preventing the accomplishment of its primarymission through the Wisconsin Idea; andWhereas, erosion of the quality of the faculty and the university’s national and international reputation willdiminish the value of a University of Wisconsin degree, and its instructional, research and outreachexcellence; andWhereas, the faculty condemn any changes to the university’s tenure and shared governance policies that areinconsistent with those of our peers or with general professional standards.Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Faculty Senate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison calls on theJoint Committee on Finance and/or State Legislature to strike all non‐fiscal language contained in Omnibus Motion #521 from the Omnibus Bill.Be it further resolved that the Faculty Senate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison calls on PresidentRay Cross to use all means at his disposal to call on the Joint Committee on Finance and/or State Legislatureto strike all non‐fiscal language contained in Omnibus Motion #521 from the Omnibus Bill.Be it further resolved that the Faculty Senate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison calls on the Board ofRegents of the University of Wisconsin System to use all means at its disposal to call on the Joint Committeeon Finance and/or State Legislature to strike all non‐fiscal language contained in Omnibus Motion #521 fromthe Omnibus Bill.Be it further resolved that the Faculty Senate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison calls on ChancellorRebecca Blank of the University of Wisconsin‐Madison to use all means at her disposal to call on the JointCommittee on Finance and/or State Legislature to strike all non‐fiscal language contained in OmnibusMotion #521 from the Omnibus Bill.
Prof. Tracy called the question at 4:54 PM. Seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
The motion to approve the resolution passed by voice vote with one dissenting vote.
Following several additional comments from the floor, the meeting was adjourned at 5:22 PM.
Steven K. Smith
Secretary of the Faculty