The University of Wisconsin System’s Board of Regents took steps Friday to make sure faculty members still have tenure protections. Regents unanimously approved a resolution adding tenure to System policy, in response to a state budget provision that removes those protections from state law.
Regent Mark Bradley said the board was doing all it could on the issue by effecting their own policies. However, he noted that “it doesn’t address something that only the Legislature can address.”
Faculty members remain opposed to the change, and Bradley said those concerns are not because they expect the UW to get rid of tenure completely. Rather, he said “it’s that a change in our tenure policy comes without any identification that a problem exists, without any gathering of data, without any analysis, and without any public discussion of an issue that really should be a Board of Regents issue to determine.”
The vote came a day after the Board’s Education Committee held a heated debate on the change. Appointees of Republican Governor Scott Walker backed language to support the budget provision, while state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers and two appointees of former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle called for taking a position against removing tenure from state law. That discussion took place with UW faculty members standing in the back of the room, holding signs and with tape over their mouth, to protest the budget changes.
Bradley did attempt to carry over that debate into Friday’s meeting, proposing a resolution that called on the Legislature to remove non-fiscal policy items from the budget, such as tenure and changes in shared governance. The measure was tabled quickly without discussion by Regent Gerald Whitburn.