September 2, 2014

Battle over UW-system continues

The battle over the future of the University of Wisconsin System continues. UW-System leaders Wednesday sent an open letter to all state legislators calling for new leadership flexibility, as contained in their Wisconsin Idea Partnership.

Their plan is contrary to the New Badger Partnership touted by UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin and Governor Scott Walker, which would split the flagship campus from the rest of the system. Martin says the plan would provide her campus flexibility to continue operating as a world-class university.

However chancellors and deans of other UW-campuses see it differently.”We believe that separating UW-Madison out into an independent public authority will lead to wasteful competition, unnecessary duplication, and frustrating barriers for Wisconsin students,” the leaders write.

A number of chambers of commerce and economic development groups are in agreement with the UW-regents alternative. Barb Fleisner, Centergy Executive Director, says local companies are concerned that an independent UW-Madison would draw students away from nearby UW-Stevens Point. She says local firms are fearful this would result in a smaller talent pool to draw from upon graduation.

Among groups supporting the UW-split include the Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and Madison-based Wisconsin Business Council.

The New Badger Partnership is among a series of proposed changes for the Madison campus in the 2011-13 state budget.

AUDIO: Centergy director on opposing UW-split (1:13)