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WUU urges UW-Madison Faculty Senate to reject the proposed revision to Chapter 10

Comments from the Wisconsin University Union

on Proposed Revision to Chapter 10

Program Discontinuance, Curtailment, Modification or Redirection

(Approved by the ad hoc committee on tenure and termination on September 11, 2015 and the University Committee on September 14, 2015 and to be presented to the UW-Madison Faculty Senate on October 5.)



The Wisconsin University Union (WUU) commends the ad-hoc committee for the work they did to address their charge. The charge, when given, may have seemed appropriate as a rapid response to the changes due to Act 55. However, from discussions at the faculty listening sessions, it is clear that enacting a tenure policy based on that change is not in the best interest of the University. The measure of the value of tenure is not established through comparison to guidelines from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) or to peer institutions but by comparison with what existed before Act 55.


WUU urges the Faculty Senate reject the proposed revision to Chapter 10 and replace it with a proposal that addresses the issues below and those raised at the faculty listening sessions.

  • As noted by the UW-Madison Chapter of AAUP, Act 55 permits the State Universities to lay off tenured faculty for curtailment, modification or redirection of a program, but does not demand that policies include such possibilities. The ad-hoc committee noted that many programs have changed or been terminated in the past without eliminating faculty. That should not be changed simply because we are now allowed to do so.
  • The policy should go back to stipulating that faculty can be terminated only due to financial emergency and to due cause. Should the Faculty Senate fail to redirect the tenure policy to insure stability for faculty as currently existent, any policy should address the following:
    • Since lay-offs and terminations have not been necessary in the past, they should not be part of program redirections in the future but only applicable for financial emergencies.
    • “Programs” need to be defined to prevent administrators from defining programs as individuals targeted for removal.
    • Program changes approved by the University Academic Planning Council as well as the results of a hearing for program changes or job displacement before the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities should be appealable to the Faculty Senate.
    • For any displacement of faculty, seniority should play an important part in which faculty lose positions and the policy should have explicit langue concerning seniority.
    • Any policy must define all the relevant terms.


Regardless of the policy adopted, the Faculty Senate should resolve to address job stability issues for University Staff.

WUU Stands With Sara Goldrick-Rab

Please join with faculty, staff and students in defending academic freedom on our campus by signing this letter in support of Sara Goldrick-Rab, Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

SGR Photo

Open Letter in Support of Sara Goldrick-Rab and Academic Freedom

To: The UW-Madison University Committee: Prof. Beth Meyerand (chair), Prof. Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, Prof. Thomas Broman, Prof. Amy Wendt, Prof. Ruth Litovsky:

We, the undersigned, are deeply disappointed with the University Committee’s hasty and ill-conceived reprimand of Prof. Sara Goldrick-Rab on July 16, 2015. The University Committee does not speak for all Faculty Senators on this issue, let alone all faculty, and certainly not for university staff and students.

Indeed, since you have singled out Prof. Goldrick-Rab for public reprimand without first discussing your concerns with her, without seeking the input of the Faculty Senators who represent the two departments with which she is affiliated, and without a vote of the Faculty Senate, it is not clear that you speak for anyone other than yourselves.

It is the University Committee’s reprimand, not Prof. Goldrick-Rab, which is damaging the principle of academic freedom and the university. Prof. Goldrick-Rab has demonstrated her dedication to the University of Wisconsin on many occasions. If the University Committee wishes to encourage the fearless sifting and winnowing on which the great state University of Wisconsin once prided itself, then you should retract your statement and apologize to her. We urge you to do so.


Chad Alan Goldberg
Professor and Faculty Senator, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
President, United Faculty & Academic Staff, AFT Local 223

Join the list of Signers! Add your name here:



Find more information on Professor Goldrick-Rab’s actions and the University Committee’s attack in Inside Higher Ed, in the Student Activism blog, and even from political cartoonist, Mike Konopacki.

Bernie Sanders: College for All

By Joe Elder, Emeritus Professor of Sociology/ Languages and Cultures of Asia/ Integrated Liberal Studies and Member of Wisconsin University Union (WUU)


Senator Bernie Sanders’ (Independent, Vermont) entry into the 2016 Democratic presidential race has introduced a fresh voice on higher education.

On May 6, 2015 Bernie Sanders introduced legislation to break up any too-big-to-fail financial institutions. He argues that using taxpayer funds to bail out failed financial institutions after Barak Obama became president in 2008 increased the gap between America’s richest and poorest. He believes that right now the six biggest banks in the US still have too much control over the US economy. They need to be broken down into smaller banks that are NOT too-big-to-fail … to be bailed out once again by taxpayer funds.

On May 19, 2015 Bernie Sanders introduced the “College for All” Act. He believes that free higher education for those who qualify and so desire should be a citizen’s right in the United States (as it is in countries like Denmark).

Bernie Sanders is appalled by the current estimated $1.3 TRILLION student-loan debts and accompanying years of so-called postgraduate “indentured servitude.” Furthermore, he has identified a source for funding the “College for All” Act. The needed funds could be generated by a 50-cent tax on every $100 of stock trades and stock sales in the United States. This tax has been nicknamed the “Robin-Hood tax,” since it takes from the rich and gives to the middle classes and the poor. If approved, the “Robin-Hood tax” would be a relatively simple tax to collect. Moreover, it would generate massive amounts of money taken from the middle of Wall Street’s everyday activities.

Bernie Sanders agrees that college is not for everybody. But he believes that every US citizen who wants a college education and is qualified for admission has a “right” to attend college. The passage of the “College for All” Act could be a significant step toward re-distributing America’s wealth, re-energizing America’s poor and middle classes, freeing college graduates from years of college-debt and “indentured servitude,” and shrinking the gap between the poorest and richest citizens in the United States.

See the summary of Sen. Sanders’ College for All Act Here.


Justice has No Champion in University of Wisconsin Regents

Bascom Hall at Dusk in Winter

By Bruce Thomadsen and the Wisconsin University Union Board.

Of all the ways the Wisconsin State Legislature is working to demolish the University, such as starting to send it into a financial free-fall and deletion of meaningful tenure, the elimination of due process and just cause for firing faculty flies in the face of our national culture’s love of justice and individual rights. For that matter, most cultures in the free world would consider this a major step toward tyrannical totalitarianism.

The University of Wisconsin Regents had the opportunity to stand for justice, protect the employees and students who are victimized by this action and slow the gutting of what is still, but not destined to remain, a major, world-class University. As a body, the Regents chose not to oppose this travesty. By delegation to a committee looking into the issue, they yielded to the abuser (the Legislature). It is unlikely that the committee can report back to the Regents in time to send a message to the Legislature before the budgetary process is complete. The Regents have to know that. They also have to have been thinking about this, assuming that they take their charge seriously. They have thought about it enough in the past to make bold statements that they will maintain the rights currently (perhaps for only a few more days) in State statute. Apparently empty bold statements.

The Wisconsin State Legislature has apparently silenced the UW-Madison Chancellor, probably with the threat that things could get much worse for her hostage children if she does not play nice. If the Regents are under the same pressure, the University has lost its champion and last protector. Civilization has taken a hit. The Empire has total control.

Quality? What potential faculty hire would want to come to a university that could fire without cause and without due process? Few faculty members of quality would stay at such a university except for personal reasons. Stay for the high quality ice cream? These changes will bring the biggest sucking sound since Ross Perot warned of the effects of NAFTA. Why would the top students want to come to study with the remnant of the faculty?

Kudos to Regents Evers, Vásquez, and Bradley who stood against the changes. They stared the dragon in the eye and did not flinch.

UW-Madison Faculty, Staff, and Students Gather on Valentines Day to Stop the Cuts, Save UW!

JoeElder_SaveUW_by Rebecca Kemble

On the 4th anniversary of the February 14th rally and march that sparked the Wisconsin Uprising, hundreds braved the cold to protest the proposed $300 million in budget cuts and the threats to democratic governance and public benefit posed by the “public” authority. WUU members Joe Elder and Bruce Tomadsen spoke to the freezing but spirited crowd.

The Cap Times Reported:

“UW students, faculty, staff and community members gathered, chanting, “No ifs, no buts, no budget cuts” and carrying signs with slogans like “I (heart) UW” and “Be like Minnesota, not Kansas” on them.

Some faculty are already leaving as a result of the cuts, said Joe Elder, professor of sociology at UW-Madison.

“And more faculty will leave,” he said.

“If the budget cuts affected football, we’d have nine players on the field instead of 11,” said Bruce Tomadsen, another UW-Madison faculty member and representative of the Wisconsin University Union. “No problem, says Walker, players can just cover other positions.””

Photo by Rebecca Kemble