UW Professor Explains Reason Behind No-Confidence Resolution | Wisconsin Public Television

UW Professor Explains Reason Behind No-Confidence Resolution

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Premiere Date: 
May 6, 2016

UW Professor Explains Reason Behind No-Confidence Resolution

University of Wisconsin Professor Chad Alan Goldberg authored the no-confidence resolution that the Faculty Senate passed this week. The resolution expressed "no confidence" in the UW System Board of Regents and System President Ray Cross to defend the Wisconsin Idea.

Episode Transcript

THE UW-MADISON FACULTY SENATE VOTED IN FAVOR OF A RESOLUTION THIS WEEK THAT READ IN PART IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED THAT THE ACTIONS OF PRESIDENT RAY CROSS AND THE BOARD OF REGENTS GIVE THE UW-MADISON FACULTY NO CONFIDENCE IN THEIR COMMITMENT TO DEFENDING THE WISCONSIN IDEA, EXTENDING THE BENEFITS OF THE UNIVERSITY TO EVERY CITIZEN IN THE STATE. THE RESOLUTION ALSO ASKS THE ADMINISTRATION TO RECOMMIT THEMSELVES TO WORKING WITH THE STATE LEGISLATURE TO IMPROVE ACCESS AND AFFORDABILITY. THE RESOLUTION WAS WRITTEN BY UW SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG. AND, PROFESSOR, THANKS VERY MUCH FOR BEING HERE.

CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG:

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST MOTIVATOR FOR THIS NO CONFIDENCE VOTE?

CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG:

WELL, I WOULD SAY A MOUNTING FRUSTRATION, FUELED BY A SERIES OF EVENTS OVER THE PAST YEAR OR MORE, THAT CONVINCED ME CERTAINLY, AND I THINK MY COLLEAGUES WHO VOTED FOR THIS RESOLUTION THAT THE LEADERSHIP OF THE UW SYSTEM, PRESIDENT RAY CROSS AND THE REGENTS, WERE REALLY MOVING IN A DIRECTION THAT I THINK IS HARMFUL FOR THIS INSTITUTION, HARMFUL FOR THE STUDENTS AND THE PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN WHOM WE SERVE. I THOUGHT IT WAS NECESSARY TO RAISE THOSE CONCERNS WITH THE PUBLIC, TRY TO ALERT THE PUBLIC, AND TRY TO EXPLAIN TO THE PUBLIC WHY WE THINK THAT.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

SPECIFIC TO WHAT? WHAT FRUSTRATIONS?

CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG:

SO THERE'S A NUMBER OF ISSUES THAT ARE INTERCONNECTED. SO, FOR INSTANCE, ONE ISSUE IS THAT CHANGES IN THE WAY THAT THE UNIVERSITY IS RUN NOW ALLOW ACADEMIC PROGRAMS TO BE MODIFIED OR DISCONTINUED ON THE BASIS OF NONEDUCATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS. WE DON'T THINK THAT SERVES THE STUDENTS WELL. WE DON'T THINK THAT SERVES THE PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN WELL. WE THINK THAT THOSE CHANGES REALLY SHOULD BE BASED ON EDUCATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS AND THAT IT REALLY SHOULD BE THE EDUCATORS, THE FACULTY WHO HAVE SOME SAY IN DETERMINING THOSE EDUCATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS. THE BUDGET CUTS ARE ANOTHER LARGE ISSUE. THIS IS AN ISSUE THAT HAS REALLY GENERATED A LOT OF CONCERN AMONG FACULTY, AMONG MY COLLEAGUES. WE UNDERSTAND THAT RAY CROSS AND THE REGENTS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BUDGET CUTS, BUT RAY CROSS DID VOW THAT HE WOULD SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCE THE BUDGET CUTS, THAT HE WOULD WORK TO DO THAT, AND WE ARE DISAPPOINTED THAT HE HAS FAILED TO DO THAT. AND NOT ONLY THAT, MORE IMPORTANTLY, THAT HE DOESN'T SEEM TO WANT TO EDUCATE THE REGENTS AND THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT THOSE BUDGET CUTS ARE HAVING. THAT'S AN ISSUE OF CONCERN. THERE'S OF COURSE THE TENURE ISSUE AS WELL, WHICH I THINK IS WIDELY MISUNDERSTOOD. THE CONCERN HERE IS THAT TENURE IS BEING WEAKENED AND ERODED. IN MY OPINION, THE WEAKENING OF TENURE IS NOT AN END IN ITSELF. I THINK THIS IS ACTUALLY A MEANS. I THINK THIS IS A MEANS TO TRY TO ACCOMPLISH IN PRACTICE WHAT GOVERNOR WALKER TRIED TO DO IN THE BUDGET, WHICH IS TO CHANGE THE HISTORIC MISSION OF THE UNIVERSITY.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

WHAT IS THE ACTUAL EFFECT OF THIS NO CONFIDENCE RESOLUTION?

CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG:

SO THE RESOLUTION IS SYMBOLIC. I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT THAT WE DON'T ACTUALLY HAVE ANY POWER OVER RAY CROSS OR THE REGENTS. THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO COMMUNICATE AND TO ALERT THEM AND THE PUBLIC TO THE DANGEROUS COURSE THAT THEY ARE -- THAT THEY HAVE CHARTED AND WHICH THEY ARE -- AND THE DIRECTION WHICH THEY'RE TAKING THE UNIVERSITY. FREDERICA, I CAN TELL YOU THAT I HAVE WORKED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN FOR 15 YEARS. I STARTED MY CAREER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN. I'VE BEEN HERE EVER SINCE. AND IN THE 15 YEARS THAT I'VE WORKED HERE, I'VE NEVER SEEN MORALE AS BAD AS IT IS NOW. AND TO ME--I'M SORRY TO SAY THIS, BUT I THINK THAT'S A SIGN OF POOR MANAGEMENT.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

UW PRESIDENT SYSTEM RAY CROSS STATED THAT HE DISAGREED WITH THE RESOLUTION, SAYING, QUOTE, AS PRESIDENT OF THE SYSTEM AND A FACULTY MEMBER, IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THAT I ADVOCATE FOR UW-MADISON AND ALL UW SYSTEM INSTITUTIONS. MY ROLE HE SAYS ALSO REQUIRES ME TO WORK IN PARTNERSHIP WITH AN ARRAY OF STAKEHOLDERS, INCLUDING FACULTY AND THE STATE LEGISLATURE. LIKEWISE MADISON CHANCELLOR REBECCA BLANK SAID THAT THE VOTE COULD EVOKE BACKLASH FROM STATE LAWMAKERS AS THEY FASHION THEIR NEXT BUDGET. SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO THESE KINDS OF SENTIMENTS?

CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG:

WELL, I ONLY WISH THAT UW SYSTEM PRESIDENT RAY CROSS WAS THE ADVOCATE THAT HE SAYS THAT HE IS. I THINK THAT THE IMPACT OF THE BUDGET CUTS, THE LOW MORALE OF FACULTY AND ACADEMIC STAFF AND GRADUATE EMPLOYEES ON THE UW SYSTEM CAMPUSES, THE VERY DEEP CONCERNS AND VERY BROAD CONCERNS THAT ARE COMING OUT, AS WE SEE NOT ONLY IN MADISON, BUT OTHER UW CAMPUSES, PASSING SIMILAR RESOLUTIONS OF NO CONFIDENCE. AND I THINK THAT WILL CONTINUE. I THINK YOU WILL SEE MORE OF THOSE. WE'VE ALREADY SEEN RESOLUTIONS FROM RIVER FALLS AND FROM LA CROSSE. I THINK WE'RE GOING TO SEE ONE NEXT WEEK FROM MILWAUKEE. ALL OF THAT I THINK INDICATES A CRISIS THAT HE IS NOT MANAGING WELL.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

WHAT ABOUT TO THE QUESTION OF KIND OF MAKING LEGISLATORS WHO ARE FASHIONING A BUDGET ANGRY?

CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG:

YEAH. SO I WOULD HOPE THAT LEGISLATORS WOULD NOT CARRY THROUGH WITH SOME OF THE THREATS THAT WE'VE SEEN IN THE MEDIA FOR REPRISAL FOR THIS RESOLUTION. I THINK THAT WOULD BE A VERY BAD PRECEDENT. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT A WORLD CLASS UNIVERSITY DEPENDS ON THE FREE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS. THAT FREE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS HAS TO INCLUDE THE POSSIBILITY OF CRITICIZING THE ADMINISTRATION AND, YES, EVEN THE REGENTS, AND, YES, EVEN THE LEGISLATURE WHEN WE FEEL THAT THE DECISIONS THAT THEY'RE TAKING ARE HARMFUL TO THE UNIVERSITY AND TO ITS HISTORICAL MISSION.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

NOW, THE BOARD OF REGENTS PRESIDENT DESCRIBED THIS VOTE AS AN OVERREACTION TO THE TENURE POLICY. WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO THAT?

CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG:

WELL, I WOULD SAY THAT'S A SYMPTOM OF PRECISELY THE PROBLEM. THAT'S SYMPTOMATIC OF THE PROBLEM, THIS SORT OF DISMISSIVE ATTITUDE WHICH WE'VE SEEN FOR A LONG TIME NOW. AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT'S BROUGHT US TO THIS POINT. SO I WOULD REALLY ENCOURAGE THE REGENTS NOT TO REACT IN A DEFENSIVE WAY AND CERTAINLY NOT IN A DISMISSIVE WAY. I WOULD URGE THEM TO REALLY TAKE A HARD LOOK AT WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING OVER THE PAST YEAR TO REALLY TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE CONCERNS THAT THE FACULTY ARE EXPRESSING THROUGH THESE NO CONFIDENCE RESOLUTIONS AND REALLY TO WORK WITH US IN A MORE CONSTRUCTIVE DIRECTION.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

NOW, THIS NO CONFIDENCE VOTE WAS TAKEN ON A VOICE VOTE, I UNDERSTAND, AND OBVIOUSLY NOT ALL FACULTY AGREED WITH IT. IN FACT ONE MEMBER OF THE FACULTY NOT SUPPORTING THE RESOLUTION WONDERED HOW FACULTY COULD PROFESS NO CONFIDENCE IN THE ADMINISTRATION WHILE AT THE SAME TIME KIND OF EXPECTING THE ADMINISTRATION, REGENTS TO WORK WITH FACULTY ON THESE ISSUES.

CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG:

I UNDERSTAND THE CONCERN. MY RESPONSE TO THAT WOULD BE THERE WERE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE THAT I CONSULTED WITH ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF THIS RESOLUTION. WHAT SHOULD GO INTO THIS RESOLUTION. MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES FELT THAT ALTHOUGH THEY HAD LOST CONFIDENCE IN UW SYSTEM PRESIDENT RAY CROSS AND IN THE REGENTS, IT WAS NECESSARY. IT WAS IMPORTANT. IT WAS VALUABLE TO TRY TO LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN FOR THE POSSIBILITY THAT THEY MIGHT RECONSIDER SOME IS OF THE DECISIONS THAT THEY MADE. THEY MIGHT RECONSIDER SOME OF THE CHANGES THAT THEY HAVE INTRODUCED. AND THAT THEY MIGHT BE OPEN TO A DIALOGUE WITH US IN A WAY THAT THEY HAVEN'T BEEN SO FAR.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

SO WHAT NOW?

CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG:

SO I THINK IN THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE WHAT WE'RE LIKELY TO SEE IS A WAVE OF SIMILAR NO CONFIDENCE RESOLUTIONS FROM ACROSS THE UW SYSTEM. IT'S ALREADY STARTED. I THINK THAT'S GOING TO CONTINUE. I THINK THAT ACTUALLY DEMONSTRATES THAT THIS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT'S CONFINED TO THE MADISON FACULTY. THIS IS REALLY SOMETHING THAT IS APPARENT THROUGHOUT THE UW SYSTEM. AND I WOULD TELL YOU THAT HAVING WORKED IN HIGHER EDUCATION FOR 15 YEARS, I CAN TELL YOU IT'S NOT EASY TO GET THE FACULTY TO AGREE ON PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING. AND THE FACT THAT THERE IS SO MUCH BROAD AGREEMENT ON THIS IS REALLY QUITE STRIKING. AND IF I COULD SAY ONE THING ABOUT THE LEADERSHIP OF RAY CROSS AND THE REGENTS IT'S THAT THEY'VE MANAGED TO UNIFY THE FACULTY. UNFORTUNATELY, THEY'VE UNIFIED US IN OPPOSITION TO THE CHANGES THEY'RE TRYING TO INTRODUCE.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

PROFESSOR GOLDBERG, THANKS VERY MUCH.

CHAD ALAN GOLDBERG:

THANK YOU.

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