April 24, 2014

UW moves to improve safety for Bangladeshi workers

Working to make sure UW licensed apparel is made under safe conditions. On the anniversary of a tragedy in Bangladesh, the UW is offering support to an international effort at improving working conditions there. On April 24, 2013, the eight-story Rana Plaza building, outside of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, collapsed during work hours, killing 1,134 people.

Cindy Van Matre, UW-Madison’s director of trademark licensing, said all 21 companies that disclosed sourcing, producing or purchasing any apparel from Bangladesh under a UW-Madison license will be required to sign onto the international Accord on Fire and Building Safety, by July 30th. So far, 11 of 21 have done so or indicated they will or intend to. “Most of them I think in the end will either end up signing on, or they know that will lose their license with the University of Wisconsin,” Van Matre said.

Van Matre said the amount of licensed UW merchandise that comes from Bangladesh is relatively small, with no licensees sourcing from more than four factories there. The university currently has contracts allowing 448 companies to make products bearing its name or logos.


Mone tapped as UWM interim chancellor

PHOTO via UWM website

PHOTO via UWM website

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross announced Tuesday that Mark Mone will serve as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee interim chancellor following the departure of Chancellor Michael Lovell next month. Lovell announced on March 26 that he had been named the first lay president of Marquette University in Milwaukee.

Mone is a professor of management within the UWM Lubar School of Business and for the past two years has served as the Chancellor’s Designee for Strategic Planning and Campus Climate. He has been a member of the UWM faculty since 1989, serving for more than 15 years as the Lubar School of Business Associate Dean for Executive Education and Business Engagement.

“Mark’s academic credentials, leadership experiences, industry background, and long-term tenure with UW-Milwaukee make him an excellent choice for interim chancellor,” said Cross. Cross will work with the Board of Regents and the UW-Milwaukee community to begin a national search for the university’s next chancellor, aiming to have a permanent appointment made by January 1, 2015.

DPI will not revoke license of Andrew Harris

andrewharrsA middle school teacher accused of sharing explicit emails will not have his license revoked by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Andrew Harris was a seventh-grade teacher at Glacier Creek Middle School when he was accused of sending and receiving the emails while on the job.

Arbitrators ruled the Middleton Cross Plains School District wrongly terminated Harris in 2010, and that he should be reinstated. He returned to the classroom in January, over the protests of some parents. Governor Scott Walker also asked the DPI to review the case and revoke Harris’ license, shortly after her returned to teaching.

DPI Director of Education Information Services John W. Johnson released a letter which stated that the accusations against Harris occurred prior to a 2011 change in state law which redefined immoral conduct.

While Andrew Harris’s conduct was highly inappropriate for an educator, it does not meet the legal definition of immoral conduct contained in the 2008-09 law. Specifically, the Department’s investigation confirmed the school district’s public statements that Andrew Harris’s conduct did not involve children in any manner. Similarly, the arbitrator who oversaw 18 days of hearings on this matter also determined that no students were involved and that no students could have seen the images. The arbitrator’s decision was upheld by the circuit court and Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Therefore, there is no probable cause that Andrew Harris violated the 2008-09 law, and the Department cannot pursue a revocation of Andrew Harris’s license at this time. 

The governor disagreed with DPI’s decision. “Governor Walker is disappointed by DPI’s decision. We believe the Department of Public Instruction does indeed have the legal authority to revoke his license under prior law and Governor Walker thinks they should do so,” said Laurel Patrick, the governor’s press secretary.



A push for a free college education

A pair of UW-Madison professors have a plan they say could give all students at public colleges and universities two years of free schooling.

Educational policy studies professor Sara Goldrick-Rab says much of the financial aid money spent by the federal government goes to students at private schools. She claims taking that money back could create new opportunities for students at public institutions, giving them a tuition-free education for two years, along with a stipend to live on. Goldrick-Rab says that would allow students to “focus on their studies for the first two years, and then decide what they want to do after that.”

The federal government allowed private school students to start receiving federal financial aid about 50 years ago, during a time when public universities and colleges were not as established as they are today. Goldrick-Rab says the quality of education and options on public campuses have changed a great deal since then, and those federal resources would now be better spent in a sector where government does and should have a say in how they are used.

As can be expected, the idea is not sitting well with those connected to private schools. Lawrence University Dean of Admissions Ken Anselment says the proposal could actually hurt students by limiting their options when selecting a college or university. He also notes that more than 20 percent of their students currently receive Pell Grants, and many of those would not be able to attend Lawrence if that aid were taken away.

Anselment admits that the proposal would also likely lead to a decline in funding for private institutions.

Goldrick-Rab and a colleague recently presented the proposal in Washington D.C., where she says it received a positive response from several governors.

Rick Schuh, WHBY

UW System President responds to longer tuition freeze

The president of the University of Wisconsin System says he wants to work with the governor and Legislature to create the best budget possible for the university. That’s how Ray Cross responded today, after Governor Scott Walker said he wanted to freeze UW tuition through the summer of 2017.

Walker said he was concerned about a surplus in the UW System that’s projected to be over a billion dollars by the end of the school year. Walker and GOP lawmakers imposed the first tuition freeze a year ago, after being blindsided by reports of large university cash reserves while tuition kept going up 5.5 percent.

While Cross on Friday agreed with Walker’s sentiment, he also signaled there could be some reservations about the plan. In a statement, Cross said “Holding college costs down helps Wisconsin students and families.” However, he also noted that “UW tuition is already lower than many peer colleges and universities.”

Cross said “We intend to thoughtfully and judiciously manage and explain our resources. We will continue to work with the Governor and the Legislature to meet our shared goal of delivering value to the state of Wisconsin.”

The governor said he would include another two-year tuition freeze in his next state budget in early 2015, if he’s reelected this fall. GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he expects his colleagues to consider the tuition freeze while working to assure a quality university system. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald also supported a continued freeze, as did both chairs of the Legislature’s finance panel.