University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Faculty Senate
Faculty Representative’s Report

Meeting of Friday, January 31, 2003.
1920 Van Hise Hall, UW-Madison

The meeting was convened by Cora Marrett, the UW System’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. The main agenda items were tenure and the (Wisconsin) State budget deficit.

1. Personnel Changes on the UW Board of Regents.

It was reported that there are five (5) new Regents, four (4) of whom will be in-place and ready to vote by the next Board of Regents meeting (February 6, 2003).

At a previous meeting, the UWS staff indicated that, with the change in Regents, the position the Board will take on key issues will not be known for some time.

2. Tenure. The discussion of tenure was led by Vice-President Cora Marrett and Christine Saulnier and focused on (among other things):

The perception of tenure by the both the public-at-large and university communities.

The need to systematically and professionally evaluate probationary track faculty.

The need to develop fair, open and timely processes for giving probationary faculty feedback on their performance.

Efforts were made by the participants in the meeting to address negative or erroneous views about tenure held by the general public. It is critically important that both faculty and System Administration hold views of tenure that are consistent with logic. The most common argument in favor of tenure is that it ensures academic freedom. One of the most tenable arguments supporting tenure is that faculty with guaranteed employment have the potential for greatly stabilizing the university. While there tends to be increasing “turnover” among top administrators at all branches of the UW System, the tenured faculty increasingly becomes the collective memory of the university on a whole range of issues, both academic and non-academic. Finally, tenure gives the average faculty a sense of “belonging” or “ownership” with respect to their university.

Ideas for Supporting Tenure-Track Faculty:

At the beginning on the one’s employment within UW institutions, departments should clearly outline short-term and long-term expectations.

The department or its representative should meet with probationary faculty at least once a year to assess performance and review progress toward specific goals.

The role of each review “layer” (Department, Dean, and Provost) within the institution should be quite clear, both to the campus community, and to the faculty being reviewed.

3. The Budget.

A. Selected comments on current processes to reduce budgets:

A “top down” process with little faculty input.

Inconsistent criteria for determining “what” and “how” to cut.

Final programmatic effects of cut not entirely clear.

B. Prospects, Problems and Ideas

Cuts to the UW System over the next two-three years could be as high as $300,000,000.

A substantial tuition increase is needed, although Governor Doyle and major politicians are hamstrung by campaign promises.

The DER (Department of Revenue) has negotiated large increases for some State workers. If the these contracts are honored, many institutions will face additional revenue shortfalls.

Submitted Georges G. Cravins
February 13, 2003