According to its newly-minted website, the Advocates “are dedicated to supporting the University of Wisconsin-Madison … [and] will promote greater accountability through enhanced autonomy for this unique institution.” This lobbying effort is similar to efforts afoot in other states to use state budget issues to privatize public higher education institutions and put more assets and power at the disposal of powerful corporate interests.
The lobby shop’s PR description closely mirrors the title of the Wisconsin Public Research Institute’s December 2010 report titled, “Making the University of Wisconsin More Accountable Through Greater Autonomy.” WPRI is heavily funded by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a right-wing neo-conservative think tank.
“Enhanced autonomy for this unique insitution” is more well known as the New Badger Partnership (NBP). The NBP, which UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has been advocating for since fall 2010, and which controversially was snuck into WI Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011-2013 Budget, would cut the strings that tie UW-Madison to the UW System. This would make UW-Madison, the current state flagship university, a quasi-private “public authority” institution.