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Splitting the University of Wisconsin | The Nation

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Splitting the University of Wisconsin

Amid confusion regarding the proposed split of the University of Wisconsin at Madison from the UW System, a summary of the proposal to be included in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget was posted to the New Badger Partnership website Wednesday, reports the student-run Daily Cardinal. The proposal has compounded frustrations with Walker’s attempts to take away collective bargaining rights for public employees.

The New Badger Partnership website, which has tracked the university’s efforts to increase institutional flexibility—especially regarding setting tuition—posted a summary (PDF) of the proposed bill which would rebrand UW-Madison as a public authority, much like the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics.

The document confirms there is legislation in place to separate the Madison campus from the UW System under a public authority model in Walker’s proposed 2011–13 budget bill. According to the summary, the institution would be governed by a twenty-one-member board of trustees, eleven of whom would be appointed by the governor and ten who would be elected by UW-Madison affiliates. This new board would set and manage tuition rates.

In addition, all of the institution’s assets and liabilities would be transferred to the newly established authority from the UW Board of Regents. The institution would remain public and continue to receive state funding, but as a “block grant”—which would allow the university to allocate public money as it sees fit.

The proposed bill has been denounced by many university officials who fear that the split will play out particularly poorly for many of the system’s satellite schools. In a letter to Walker and UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin, UW System President Kevin Reilly and other officials wrote that “dismantling our public university structure is a consequential public policy decision that affects every UW campus, all 72 UW-Extension county offices, and every family who dreams of seeing their child earn a UW degree.”

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