Attempts to break the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the UW-System are wrong in their central view.
Wisconsin’s state universities need a new business model. It is mistaken to see the best first step as allowing UW-Madison to go it alone.
As one involved in the merger of our public universities, in drafting merger implementation statutes and in the review of the scope of the UW System, I realize UW-Madison generally resisted being part of major inter-institutional changes that have brought campuses together to their current successes.
The latest symptom is that UW-Madison now seeks applause for beginning a dialogue it didn’t begin.
UW System administration and all its member institutions worked together, until lately, on a new business model. UW-Madison isn’t showing leadership in its chancellor’s secretive negotiations to benefit only her campus. It isn’t leadership to abandon coordinated effort while keeping the regents, system administration and all other universities in the dark. It isn’t leadership to keep all elements except UW-Madison out of the process for change.
Study of new models has been thorough, but rightly included the entire UW System until Madison turned its back on UW colleagues and went lone wolf.
The Wisconsin Idea has flourished for decades by being a cooperative, coordinated process. Its system efforts benefited Wisconsin’s taxpayers, students and economy. That is how it should move forward to a new business model — together.