Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker criticized the work ethic of college professors on Wednesday, saying on a radio program that academics need to start “teaching more classes and doing more work.”
Walker is pushing for a $300 million budget cut over two years for the University of Wisconsin system, a drop of 13 percent from current funding levels. The cuts are also being coupled with an in-state tuition freeze, meaning there is no easy way for the system to offset its losses besides hiking out-of-state tuition. While Walker is pledging to couple the cuts with a greater level of autonomy for the UW system, his efforts are still making school administrators howl.
System president Ray Cross has warned that some of its campuses lack cash reserves, or are running on a deficit. UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank warned in a statement that “This is going to mean layoffs in all of my schools and colleges.”
Walker says that what UW really needs to do is become more efficient, and that could start with demanding more of faculty members.
“Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work,” he said Wednesday, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. “This authority frees up the UW administration to make those sorts of requests, which I think are needed not only here but across the country.”
Walker said that he has been told by dozens of UW officials and alumni that reduced state oversight would allow huge efficiency gains. His reforms would allow UW to set its own compensation and tenure policies, and would also exempt the system from onerous state purchasing rules. Now, Walker argues, school officials will have the chance to improve themselves, while also having nobody else to shift the blame towards for their shortcomings.
“This puts the ball clearly in their court, and say ‘now is your time to lead. Here’s all of the responsibility; you get all of the burdens but all of the benefits if you do well here,'” he said. “I think it not only will make them more efficient and more effective, it will ultimately make them more accountable to the public.”
Walker shot back at the idea that his plan systematically weakened the UW system, noting that he had a personal stake in its success.
“I’ve got a student there myself,” he said.
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