Since Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature stripped University of Wisconsin system employees of tenure protections and collective bargaining rights, faculty members statewide have decried the injury done to Wisconsin’s public universities. Now, system faculty face little hope of improvement from Board of Regents policies intended, in some measure, to substitute for lost protections.
The system’s Board of Regents — 16 of whose 18 members Walker personally appoints — is expected to leave a post-tenure review procedure intact. As a result, tenured professors will continue to face performance assessments which critics say emphasize the degree to which they benefit the state through job creation rather than education.
Professors whose reviews go poorly could lose their tenure or face dismissal in the event of departmental budget cuts.
Walker has argued his reforms were necessary to modernize Wisconsin’s public universities. However, critics note the reforms allow for the easy dismissal of professors working in fields that don’t create many jobs,
Moreover, as a result of the state’s lack of worker protections, faculty leaders say the Wisconsin system has lost some of its power to attract new talent and retain the educators it already has.
Here at the University of Minnesota, faculty union talks might stall under a state provision preventing the University from altering its employees’ contracts without government approval. We repeat our support for a faculty union at the University, and we urge Minnesota’s government to look next door to watch what happens to a school system whose employees lack adequate protections.