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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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  • Sep 3, 2015

    Thoughts on the WTCS and UW Colleges/Extension merger discussions

    by Noel Radomski, WISCAPE Director and Associate Researcher
    On Tuesday, August 11, 2015, at the request of Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), a group of six Wisconsin Republican legislators held an informal, closed-door discussion about merging the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and the University of Wisconsin Colleges and Extension. State and national media have covered the controversial news here, here, here, and here; campus, business, and state technology leaders have expressed their concerns here, here, and here; and two editorials have opined conflicting perspectives here and here. Based on other states’ efforts at merging postsecondary education systems and Wisconsin’s most recent merger effort in the 1970s, I advise the legislators and Governor Walker to consider past experiences before going any further with the merger discussions.
    Full story

  • Aug 14, 2015

    Cuts across the UW System

    by Jason Lee, WISCAPE Outreach Programs Manager
    It was a tough summer for the UW System. The governor signed the 2015-17 state budget on July 12th. The final budget included the removal of tenure protections and a significant erosion of campus governance from state statute. It also added new provisions for laying-off faculty to state statute. And of course, the UW’s budget was reduced by $250 million, with a tuition freeze for resident students remaining in effect.
    Full story

  • Jul 22, 2015

    Time for a new strategy

    by Christopher Newfield, WISCAPE Affiliate
    It’s a widely noted fact that colleges and universities are under new pressure to justify their value and function. The same is true of tenure-track faculty members, who are at the heart of the higher education system whose benefits much of society now claims to find mysterious, and whose job security is increasingly criticized.
    Full story

  • Jul 13, 2015

    UW System Budget Post-Mortem: Gov. Walker’s Vetoes

    by Noel Radomski, WISCAPE Director and Associate Researcher
    Now that Governor Walker has signed the 2015-2017 Wisconsin biennial budget, completed his 104 vetoes, and officially announced his presidential campaign, here is a list of his vetoes that will affect the UW System. Following in the footsteps of the immortal Detective Sergeant Joe Friday, “Just the facts, Ma’am,” and thus I offer no comments. More to follow.
    Full story

  • Jul 9, 2015

    What Wisconsin can learn from Louisiana’s budget debates

    by Rachel Nathanson, WISCAPE Communications Assistant
    At first glance, there seem to be a lot of similarities between Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts to the University of Wisconsin System and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed budget cuts to the Louisiana State University System. Both states face significant budget shortfalls, with Wisconsin’s at $2.2 billion and Louisiana’s at $1.6 billion. Walker’s budget would have cut higher education funding by 13 percent, or $300 million over two years. If this sounds like a lot, consider the 82 percent cut to higher education that Louisiana would have faced. Jindal announced a $141.3 million funding decrease in his proposal, but reports attempting to account for the funding’s contingency on tax cuts and tuition increases have put the number as high as $600 million.
    Full story

  • Jun 5, 2015

    Why Wisconsin matters to you

    by Nicholas Hillman, WISCAPE Affiliate
    What happens in Wisconsin will not stay in Wisconsin. Lawmakers here are moving quickly to hollow out the definition of tenure and strip away due process rights for faculty members and academic staff. For legislators in other states who want to dismantle public higher education, they might look here to find new plays for their playbooks.
    Full story

  • 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

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