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Welcome to the WISCAPE Blog

Thank you for visiting our blog. We aim to provide a space for WISCAPE faculty, staff, and others to share their viewpoints on key issues and trends in postsecondary education and invite discussion with the broader community. The opinions expressed in blog posts are the authors' own and do not reflect the official views of WISCAPE.
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  • May 27, 2015

    A turning point for the UW Colleges

    by Noel Radomski, WISCAPE Director and Associate Researcher
    During this spring’s biennial budget deliberations on the UW System, most of the public's attention has focused on potential savings from the proposed UW System public authority and how the $380 million budget cuts would be distributed to the doctoral and the regional comprehensive universities. Much less attention, however, has focused on the future of the 13, two-year UW Colleges campuses.
    Full story

  • May 1, 2015

    Comments on the Brookings Value-Added Ratings

    by Robert Kelchen, WISCAPE Affiliate
    Jonathan Rothwell and Siddharth Kulkarni of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings made a big splash today with the release of a set of college “value-added” rankings (link to full study and Inside Higher Ed summary) focused primarily on labor market outcomes. Value-added measures, which adjust for student and institutional characteristics to get a better handle on a college’s contribution to student outcomes, are becoming increasingly common in higher education. (I’ve written about college value-added in the past, which led to me taking the reins as Washington Monthly’s rankings methodologist.) Pretty much all of the major college rankings at this point include at least one value-added component, and this set of rankings actually shares some similarities with Money’s rankings. And the Brookings report does mention correlations with the U.S. News, Money, and Forbes rankings—but not Washington Monthly. (Sigh.)
    Full story

  • Apr 30, 2015

    State priorities and impact on students - Part 2

    by Jason Lee, WISCAPE Outreach Programs Manager
    Forty years of declining state investment, rising costs, and financial aid that can’t keep up has changed the landscape of public higher education in Wisconsin. The most recent state divestment will expedite these changes, leading to: 1. Reduced affordability and higher student-loan debt 2. Increased focus on out-of-state students 3. Decreased student services 4. Fewer classes; fewer sections 5. Fewer campuses???
    Full story

  • Apr 20, 2015

    State priorities and impact on students - Part 1

    by Jason Lee, WISCAPE Outreach Programs Manager
    Recently, the debate over the governor’s executive budget has focused on what it might mean for changes in tenure, shared governance, and the role of the Board of Regents. What shouldn’t be lost however, are lessons about the priorities of our state and its relationship to today and tomorrow’s college students. With that in mind, now might be a good time to revisit what others have pointed out (here and elsewhere) about the impact of this budget, and other historic political decisions, on the students of Wisconsin.
    Full story

  • Mar 20, 2015

    Does it matter? Transparency lacking during the budget process

    by Noel Radomski, WISCAPE Director and Associate Researcher
    During the construction of the governor’s 2015-2017 biennial budget, including the proposed UW System public authority and budget cut, were UW System leadership transparent throughout the process?
    Full story

  • Mar 10, 2015

    Understanding the effects of Governor Walker’s UW System budget cut on the cost of instruction and tuition

    by W. Lee Hansen, UW-Madison
    Reactions to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget cut of $300 million for the UW System in the next biennium, while strong in their opposition, have not been clearly focused To better understand the effects of these cuts, it is helpful to have an understanding of instructional costs and their relation to tuition. Instructional costs are the costs of educating undergraduate students, including, for example: faculty/staff compensation, student services (such as advising), and the operation of campus libraries.
    Full story

  • Feb 27, 2015

    The high price of a public authority in Wisconsin

    by Lenora Hanson, Elsa Noterman, and Eleni Schirmer
    Despite inveighing against the magnitude of the cuts presented in the proposed 2015-2017 budget, system administrators have long campaigned for "public authority" status. They recognize the cuts as a “DEAL” with the state in exchange for what they call the ‘flexibilities’ of the public authority model. This desire explains why no UW System Chancellor has, to our knowledge, demanded that cuts to higher education be outright rejected. System President Ray Cross characterizes this as a deal for one simple reason: UW system budget cuts are an exchange for public authority status. As President Cross mentioned in the email he sent to system-wide chancellors before news of the cuts became public, the part of the budget that would make the university a public authority was an opportunity to be seized -- “something we might not get a shot at for another 20-30 years.”
    Full story

  • Feb 26, 2015

    Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis and state agency summaries

    by Noel Radomski, WISCAPE Director and Associate Researcher
    Today the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released the Legislative Reference Bureau’s non-partisan analysis of the “2015-2017 Summary of Governor’s Budget Recommendation.” Below (in italics) is the introduction.
    Full story

  • Feb 17, 2015

    A comparison of the proposed UW System Public Authority and the Restructuring Act in Virginia

    by Noel Radomski, WISCAPE Director and Associate Researcher
    Since Governor Walker released his 2015-2017 biennial budget, which included a proposed $300 million cut to the UW System and conversion of the UW System to public authority, many have asked if there are lessons we can learn from other states about the likely impact of Walker’s proposal. Based on a literature review, conversations with higher education scholars and system administrators, and an informative Wisconsin State Journal article by Dan Simmons, one state sticks out above all others: Virginia.
    Full story

  • Feb 12, 2015

    Privatizing Wisconsin

    by Jacob Stampen, WISCAPE Affiliate
    Where do Gov. Walker’s public policy ideas come from? The long-standing debate over how the public-and private-sector should be involved in delivering goods and services is, once again, gaining attention in Wisconsin and across the nation. One side (followers of John Maynard Keynes) argues that government is best suited to provide services that everyone needs, such as education and health care, though the private sector can be relied on for everything else. The other side (followers of Milton Friedman) argues that the private sector can provide virtually every kind of service better than the public sector, and therefore it should be relied on to do so. If true, this would save taxpayers a great deal of money and make them less dependent on government.
    Full story

  • Feb 4, 2015

    The language of today’s higher education debate

    by Jason Lee, WISCAPE Outreach Programs Manager
    Governor Walker’s proposed budget includes severe cuts to UW System colleges and universities and restructuring into a public authority. What do these changes mean, and do we have a common understanding of the language used to justify the changes?
    Full story

  • Feb 3, 2015

    UW budget proposal breaks faith with UW Colleges and local partners

    by Jim Rosenberg, UW-Marathon County and Marathon County Board of Supervisors
    I have a different perspective on the governor’s current budget proposal as it relates to UW Colleges. Not only do I work in student affairs at UW-Marathon County, but I am also a multi-term member of the Marathon County Board of Supervisors, where I chair the Education and Economic Development Committee. This places me in the unusual position of simultaneously being a landlord and a tenant.
    Full story

  • Jan 30, 2015

    Statement on Governor Walker's Budget Proposal

    by Sara Goldrick-Rab, WISCAPE Senior Scholar
    Governor Walker’s budget proposal gives the University of Wisconsin System greater flexibility as a public authority, including allowing the Board of Regents to set tuition. In an apparent quid pro quo, he has also proposed a $300 million cut to System appropriations. I have devoted my career to finding ways to make college more affordable while ensuring that students obtain degrees of value. There are many ways to achieve these goals, and selecting among them requires careful evaluation of the likely impacts. Existing evidence makes me very concerned about the implications of the Governor’s budget proposal when it comes to educational opportunities for students and families throughout the state.
    Full story

  • Jan 29, 2015

    Would the liberal arts be stronger in a more autonomous UW?

    by Johann Neem, WISCAPE Affiliate
    The debate in higher education between autonomy, on the one hand, and public funding and oversight, on the other, is as old as the republic itself. In the famous controversy over Dartmouth College during the 1810s, Federalist trustees of the college sought to make it private in order to prevent the incoming Jeffersonian Republican majority in New Hampshire from taking control of the college. At issue was not just control but the kind of education that Dartmouth would provide. Dartmouth’s trustees and the state’s Jeffersonian leadership did not trust each other to educate the next generation.
    Full story

  • Jan 29, 2015

    Cutting public higher education has predictable outcomes

    by Nicholas Hillman, WISCAPE Affiliate
    Governor Walker’s proposed $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin System’s budget is believed to be the largest in the system’s history. This cut represents 13 percent of the state higher education budget, which would be one of the largest cuts any state has faced over the past 30 years. Only a handful have ever cut so deeply in a single biennium, even during the Great Recession.
    Full story

  • Jan 29, 2015

    What we know about the proposal to make the UW a public authority

    by Noel Radomski, WISCAPE Director and Associate Researcher
    The purpose of this blog entry, and subsequent entries from myself and others, is three-fold. First, to paint a picture of the emerging UW System public-private authority proposal. Second, to introduce questions and ideas based on evidence-based research and lessons learned from other higher education public-private authority efforts. And third, to provide a non-partisan, objective platform for the exchange of knowledge and information for interested parties, including decision-makers. We aim to help you better understand the complexities, questions, options, and decisions surrounding the proposal to create a UW System public authority.
    Full story

  • Jan 13, 2015

    More reflections on free community college

    by Kari Dickinson, WISCAPE Communications Manager
    We asked our affiliates to share what they thought about President Obama's plan to make community college tuition free. Robert Kelchen and Nicholas Hillman discussed the plans pros and cons in previous posts. In an email, Lauren Schudde, a postdoctoral research associate at Teachers College, Columbia University, expressed concern about the requirement that students maintain a 2.5 GPA, as her research has found that academic standards have a negative effect on student persistence:
    Full story

  • Jan 12, 2015

    America’s College Promise: prospects, concerns, and the need for more research

    by Nicholas Hillman, WISCAPE Affiliate
    Like public libraries, parks, and K-12 schools, community colleges could one day also be free. Well, “free” in the sense that students would not pay tuition to attend their local community college. This was the original vision of community colleges in the 1940s, reaffirmed in the 1970s, and it is the goal of President Obama’s America’s College Promise proposal.
    Full story

  • Jan 9, 2015

    Thoughts on President Obama’s “Free Community College” Proposal

    by Robert Kelchen, WISCAPE Affiliate
    Two weeks in advance of the State of the Union Address, President Obama unveiled a proposal for tuition-free community college that is getting a great deal of attention. The plan, which was influenced by a “Free Two-Year College Option” paper by Sara Goldrick-Rab and Nancy Kendall, calls for the federal government to fund three-fourths of the cost of tuition and fees while states fund the remainder. The student is then responsible for covering other costs that go along with college attendance, such as books and living expenses.
    Full story

  • Dec 19, 2014

    Disconnected Dots Part 2: Athletics and UW-Madison

    by Noel Radomski, WISCAPE Director and Associate Researcher
    I was wrong. The prediction I made in my December 12 blog post that UW Athletics would be given a free pass to select a new football coach without actively involving other campus leaders in their search did not come to pass. Athletic Director Barry Alvarez; Chancellor Blank, and other campus leaders; UW System leaders; the University Committee; and the Athletic Board, especially the board chair, Professor Covaleski, all followed campus and UW System search policies and procedures in the selection of the new coach. Also, when the Athletic Department decided it wanted to expedite the required posting time frame, Chancellor Blank was consulted and she granted a campus waiver.
    Full story

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