Sympathy for the state next door

Oh, Wisconsin. The Republicans want to strangle their university system.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers had proposed a $305 million increase for the UW System over the next two school years.

Republican lawmakers instead cut state funding for campuses by $32 million in an effort to defund diversity offices, which they see as a waste of money.

UW-Madison will bear the brunt, losing $7 million, or 44%, of this year’s $16 million cut. The university enrolls about one-third of UW System students. UW-Madison declined to comment on the cut.

Diversity offices are a waste of money? Only if you think only wealthy and middle class white people deserve a university education…which, I will admit, is true to the Republican ethos. Don’t worry, though, they’re dangling a carrot with the promise of restoring the money. All the university has to do is focus on vocational programs and cut all the diversity and equity programs. This is

UW System has a chance to recoup the $32 million budget cut. Officials must present a plan to the Republican-controlled budget-writing committee on how campuses would spend the money on workforce development.

The Regents will receive a preview of the plan in October, said UW System chief finance officer Sean Nelson. Spending will focus on engineering, data, science and nursing programs.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the UW System won’t get its money back unless it eliminates diversity and equity programs — an idea UW officials have previously shot down.

“Let’s hope these campuses start by eliminating their unnecessary (diversity, equity and inclusion) positions,” he said in a statement responding to the latest furlough news. “It would be a first step in showing they’re serious about cutting wasteful spending, shoring up their deficits, and working with the Legislature to develop sustainable long-term funding solutions.”

Well, great. My daughter is currently on the job market, and the kinds of jobs she’s looking for are in biomedical computing — so those positions aren’t in immediate danger. But a healthy workplace in academia or industry requires a good balance, and also requires diversity, so this is a long-term threat.

Another long-term problem is that we’ve been starving the universities in Minnesota as well as Wisconsin.

Ten of the 13 universities are projecting deficits this year, too, and many are taking significant action to rein in spending. UW-Oshkosh is laying off 200 employees and mandating furloughs for all other staff. UW-Parkside and UW-Platteville are considering similar measures.

Most campuses are using money from a tuition increase to offset their deficits. The Regents voted earlier this year to increase in-state undergraduate tuition across all 13 universities by about 5%. It was the first time since 2012.

Many campuses are also tapping tuition balances, which is what campuses carry over as their main source of reserves. They’ve been spending down their reserves for more than a decade. UW-Oshkosh, for example, said it expects to deplete its balances by the end of this school year.

“This is not sustainable,” Rothman put it plainly.

Again, this is the Republican agenda. Diversity programs are just the latest crack in the system that they’re hammering on, but make no mistake: the ultimate goal is the destruction of all of higher ed.


  1. StevoR says

    Because they love the poorly educated as Trump once famously said.

    The better educated, better at thinking and better informed – tend NOT to vote Repugliklan.

  2. Dunc says

    the ultimate goal is the destruction of all of higher ed.

    Except for a handful of exclusive colleges for the children of the new aristocracy, of course…

  3. says

    Canadian universities must be rubbing their hands when they look at what\s happening or about to happen with some American schools. The word will eventually get around abroad that some American schools aren’t good places to study anymore for certain fields, or in general. So maybe it’s time to reconsider that Canadian university you were looking at. And like the US foreign students pay a lot more to study in Canadian schools than Canadians do.

  4. says

    I say: Diversity is what provides the widest range of experience and enriches our society and Universities.
    These tiny-minded rtwingnut Repugnantcants have no perspective on what education should be!
    The article said: must present a plan to the Republican-controlled budget-writing committee on how campuses would spend the money on workforce development.
    I reply: Universities are not Trade Tech Schools.(both are needed) Universities are responsible for providing a broad education. A broadly educated mind, taught how to think and given knowledge of history and society as well as ‘major sequence’ concentration is crucial.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    I am beginning to think the Republicans have been infected with an Alien brain parasite to soften us up for the coming conquest, the way missionaries were used in the past.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    We have a few ‘neoliberal’ conservatives like this in Sweden, but fortunately they have -so far- only taken over the odd mid-sized town causing great damage to libraries and culture.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    Wisconsin higher ed doesn’t have it nearly so bad as that in the state just before them alphabetically:

    I Graduated From West Virginia University. The Travesty Unfolding There Is Breaking My Heart.:

    WVU, West Virginia’s flagship land-grant university, which is located in the small city of Morgantown on the state’s northern border with Pennsylvania, is rushing to eliminate 9 percent of its majors (32 programs in total), all foreign language programs, and 16 percent of full-time faculty members (169 in total) in response to a $45 million budget deficit for the fiscal year 2024. …

    Their proposal is a result of financial mismanagement, lack of institutional transparency, and an astonishing failure to recognize the power of education …

    In 2014, [WVU President E. Gordon] Gee predicted that university enrollment would increase to 40,000 students, despite the fact that enrollment only reached approximately 31,000 at its historic peak. His administration proceeded to make financial decisions based on fiscal data that was almost nonexistent. …

    … Gee refuses to address what seems to be the root cause of WVU’s budgetary crisis: the rapid withdrawal of state funding from the school. While Gee cited increased costs and population decline as causes of WVU’s financial issues, he notably failed to mention that overall state funding has dramatically decreased in recent years. …

    … Gee is not solving a structural issue. He is not cutting back on administrative excess. (Students are demanding that the WVU administration face an independent audit.) One cannot help but wonder if the cuts are driven by a hostility to liberal arts education couched in the sterile ambiguity of financial considerations. WVU isn’t the first place to experience this particular impact of austerity. Rpk Group, a consulting firm that WVU employed, has previously helped to cut academic programs in Kansas and at institutions like New Jersey City University, preserving and generating revenue primarily for majors and degree programs that serve the tech industry. …

    … Gee’s past appointments at American universities concluded amid controversies he incited by implementing reductions to academic programs. His expense report at OSU revealed the university spent $7.7 million on Gee’s expenses, almost equaling his $8.6 million salary. When he was president at Brown, the university spent $3 million renovating his home. Under his supervision as chancellor at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt spent $6 million renovating the mansion where Gee lived; Gee also incurred a $700,000 tab for hosting social events. …

    … new buildings sprang up year after year, creating an ominous undertone on campus as more and more students disappeared. My friends and I were especially disturbed by the grandeur of Reynolds Hall, which opened in fall 2022. Reynolds Hall cost $100 million to construct. It was named for alumnus Robert “Bob” Reynolds, who donated $10 million to the project and now sits on the WVU Board of Governors. …

    We will learn only subjects aligned with the preferences of the rich, driven by their financial motivations. We will work for the oligarchs for the rest of our lives, just like our parents and our grandparents did for the global coal industry. We will continue to amass inconceivable riches for the nation’s privileged elite until our last breath, and we will find our resting place in unadorned cardboard coffins beneath West Virginia soil. …

  8. birgerjohansson says

    E. Gordon Gee is clearly a part of the shape-shifting space lizard spearhead force, preparing the ground for the takeover.