The chancellor of UW Madison believes a plan for the university’s future will be adopted. Biddy Martin told the Madison Rotary Club that she’s committed to seeing through the adoption of the controversial New Badger Partnership, which among other things would split the Madison campus from the UW System. “I don’t care if I lose my job over this, to be honest with you, because it’s the right thing for UW Madison,” said Martin. “I’m going to fight for it right up until it no longer makes sense for the institution.”
Afterwards, Martin conceded she doesn’t really think her job it at risk, but said that’s not the point. “It’s not about me, and it’s really important that it stop being focused on me and may job,” she said. “This is really about the future of the state of Wisconsin.” In her remarks to the Rotarians, Martin she responded to critics who’ve been upset that she’s worked with Governor Scott Walker. “He’s the governor,” she said. “Every chancellor in the history of UW Madison has worked with governors individually.”
Martin also told the Madison Rotary Club that there’s been plenty of transparency on the proposal. “The notion that this is a new thing, that just came out of the governor’s pocket because he and Biddy Martin were in bed together, no, that’s just not true. And I think most of you in this room know it’s not true.”
State Representative Robin Vos, the co-chair of the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, has indicated that he doesn’t think there are votes to support the Badger Partnership. “I think Representative Vos is probably right, that right now there are not the definite votes, partly because the legislators have been focused on other issues entirely,” said Martin. “They’re just getting to point of getting better informed and thinking through this issue. I’m confident that they will see the importance of it.”
Taking the New Badger Partnership out of Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget is something Martin says she’d only support with a condition. “It would be fine with me if they would delay making a decision about our budget reduction,” she said. “Giving us $125 million cut and saying ‘we’ll wait a year to decide what to do to help,’ that’s not acceptable.” Martin again repeated her assertion that the plan would allow tuition at UW Madison to be held down – by giving the state’s flagship university greater flexibility to manage its own affairs.
Martin’s remarks to the Rotary Club came just two days after the chairmans of the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee outlined an alternative proposal in a letter (PDF) to the co-chairs of the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) wants the UW Madison to remain part of the UW System – while giving all the campuses greater autonomy with accountability. “This is a proposal, as extensive as it is, that should be dealt with, with separate legislation and hearings by both the Assembly and the Senate, to try to meet in agreement in areas that we can meet in agreement on, and then put it in statute and move forward,” said Nass.
UW System President Kevin Reilly, who along with chancellors of the system’s other campuses opposes the Badger Partnership and who has proposed an alternative plan, is scheduled to address the Rotary Club next week. “I understand they feel strongly that Madison has to be in the system, that they have to have control over Madison. It’s a disagreement,” said Martin. “I don’t believe any of the regents or President Reilly have leading a complex research university.”