UW Struggle: All That Remains Edition

All That Remains“Expect the worst” has proven itself outdated, as Wisconsin continually exceeds such expectations during its transformation into a full corporate laboratory. A lot of pre-cut pieces have fallen into place, with the UW domino yet to fall, but it’s all pretty clear, isn’t it?

Recent events include:

  • More money has been given to K-12 schooling, but only for the purpose of increasing the pot for private interests. I mean, why make a turkey for someone if you’re not going to stuff it?
  • Death by a thousand rules to Wisconsin’s poor, who are receiving legislative treatment that makes Leviticus look fussy.
  • Plus, a hundred other things I could list here.

So where does that leave the UW System? Especially with money being handed out to public schools the CEOs of future charter schools and tax revenue being incompatible with our national austerity regime?

Short answer: screwed. All that remains to be asked is: how screwed?

Well, there are competing theories on this as they apply to the UW and, more specifically, its leadership:

Hypothesis 1

President Ray Cross is lobbying furiously behind closed doors, drawn curtains, and pulled blinds. He’s fighting for his constituents and employees, but what is the poor guy to do? He’s been dealt a bad hand with an impossible legislature, and how dare anyone think otherwise? (Insert lazy thinkpiece about how faculty need to embrace reality, or some other nonsensical permutation.)

Hypothesis 2

We have seen how the goals of our republican-controlled legislature apply to other elements of the state. All that remains for the UW is to see how their republican president will work with the republican-controlled legislature to implement a vision acceptable to them.


Number 2 (pun intended!) has always been the reality. All that remains is to see how this intra-party wrangling plays out, as well as what fully dishonest bow will be put on the package. Of course, with K-12 that dishonest bow is that the legislature somehow fought to restore money for public education, rather than position funds for private interests. So what will it be for the UW? “Ray Cross/Legislature save tenure and shared governance!” Maybe something else: “Priority funds sent aside for 21 Century global blah blah blah!” Or the usual: “UW is more accountable to the accountants and American Taxpayers for Not Paying Taxes.” And for dessert, somehow tenured faculty will be to blame for everything, including the rapidly spreading bat fungus.

How do we know this? Well, we either have the most unsuccessful president in the history of this institution who can’t effectively lobby for anything, or there’s a lot of agreement on the direction. Surely the latter makes more sense, no?

Bonus: Central is bravely fighting the good fight in private, and now publicly they are…(drum roll, followed by sound of deflating balloon) willing to throw everyone under the PR bus. Hence, the new hotline for fraud and waste and abuse! (Someone explain to me the photo on this page.) Yes, tell us more about how we suck (especially faculty)! What could possibly go wrong? But since you asked, I have a few ideas that people might consider calling about.

That’s all that remains. I might have one more blog post in this ongoing saga, but then I’ll be turning my attention to two projects that are overdue in my life. As usual, I send out much respect to my fellow UW faculty, staff, students, alumni, and supporters, as well as all other public employees. We have done, and continue to do, our work while being devalued and dehumanized. I admire all of you, deeply, and there is no professional part of my life I cherish more than being a public servant to the people of this state.

My yacht awaits.