Digging Deeper: Possible impact of no-confidence vote on UW camp - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Digging Deeper: Possible impact of no-confidence vote on UW campus

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MADISON (WKOW)-- The UW-Madison campus is divided over a proposed 'no-confidence' vote led by university professors. The resolution was written to speak out against UW System President Ray Cross and the UW Board of Regents.

The resolution itself was written by UW-Madison faculty senator and sociology professor Chad Alan Goldberg, who is speaking on his own behalf and not on the behalf of his academic department or the entire faculty senate.

"We the faculty are trying to stand up for Wisconsin students. We're very concerned both by the changes that have been made and introduced," Goldberg explains.

UW professors aren't the first to propose a no-confidence resolution. According to a nationwide database that goes back to 1989, there have been more than 150 of these resolutions and they're more popular than ever.

Recent Ohio State Phd. graduate Sean McKinnisss has been researching no-confidence votes for nearly a decade. He says his data shows in more than half of these cases, the university's chancellor or system president resigns within a year.

"That's not saying it's only because of these votes," McKinnis explains. "A vote of no-confidence has no legal meaning at any institution in the United States. It's simply an expression of anger or distrust, but when you have these types of votes, that 'black eye' potential is there."

McKinniss says these votes no-confidence often create a toxic environment on college campuses. He says it's unclear whether these votes have any effect on enrollment or a university's ability to attract and retain faculty members, because in most cases the problems began long before the no-confidence vote was issued.

"They create a difficult situation, regardless of the justification for it. They often create a very toxic atmosphere that is often felt by students and the surrounding community," McKinniss explains.

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank published a blog Tuesday opposing the vote. She believe it will do more harm than good.

"I do not see any positive outcome from such an expression and believe there is a risk of substantial negative effects," Blank writes in her blog post.

"I believe it will only reduce support for us at a time we need to communicate our value to the citizens of Wisconsin as strongly as possible."

Wisconsin Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke also criticized the idea by saying, "this action by the governing members of the UW Madison shows an arrogance that doesn't serve the University or its students well."

Goldberg  says he understands there may be some negative consequences, but believes the faculty must go on the record regarding this issue so that the board of regents and the general public understand the serious frustration that is felt on campus after the implementation of these recent tenure policies.

"There are of course risks and dangers in a resolution of this sort. However, I would say that to blame any possible effect on enrollment for instance on this resolution would be to shoot the messenger," Goldberg explains.

The UW Faculty Senate will discuss this no-confidence vote during it's monthly meeting next Monday. The senate is made up of 220 UW professors from various departments on campus. No word yet on how they'll vote on it, but Goldberg is expecting plenty of debate.

In response to the upcoming vote, a UW System spokesman released a statement, which says "President Cross and the regents remain focused on working with students, faculty members, staff, chancellors and partners throughout Wisconsin to keep every UW system institution a world-class institution."

The spokesman says Cross is traveling to three UW campuses this week to speak with campus leaders about everything from budget reductions to how to improve the college experience for students.

The UW System budget cuts and tenure changes came from the latest state budget put in place by state republicans and Governor Scott Walker. On Tuesday, the governor defended those changes.

"Reforms we put in place that were really about saying, you know, high performers should be rewarded, those that fail to meet basic expectations should not continue to be in place," Walker explains.

"We've always seen it in our cities, our towns, our villages, our counties and our state government as well as our school districts. I think it's realistic to expect the same thing when it comes to higher education."

To read the full no-confidence resolution click here.  

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