UW-Madison Faculty Senate passed legislation Monday calling on UW System President Ray Cross to reaffirm his commitment to shared governance.
The resolution called on Cross to respect and protect shared governance groups with decisions regarding the UW System and its campuses, as well as outline specific shared governance policies and practices for faculty, staff and students in a manner that supports all members of the UW System.
The legislation comes in response to emails between Cross and Regent Gerald Whitburn obtained by Wisconsin Public Radio after his controversial plan to restructure the UW System leaked. In the correspondances, Cross expressed his frustration about shared governance groups’ negative reaction to the change.
“Getting hammered by the 'shared governance' leaders because they weren't involved in the process; however, had they been involved we wouldn't be doing anything!!” Cross wrote.
Shortly after, Nick Webber — the only student representative on the University of Wisconsin Colleges and Extension Restructuring Committee — issued a statement against Cross’s comments about shared governance.
“It is my sincere hope that divisive sentiments toward the employees and students of the University of Wisconsin System will no longer be tolerated,” Webber said. “The comments made were simply inappropriate and must be addressed immediately.”
The UW-Madison chapter of the American Association of University Professors and the UW-Stout Student Senate followed suit shortly after.
The UW-Stout Student Senate issued a vote of no confidence in Cross. In their statement, the group described Cross’ comments and leadership throughout the restructuring as “irrevocably ruinous” and argued that because Cross violated the missions of the UW System to engage with students and facilitate partnerships with other governance groups, he created a sense of distrust.
“The UW System failed to fulfill [these] missions during the structure and planning of this restructure by only engaging and facilitating partnerships with a select group of individuals, creating a rift of distrust among the system and causing concerns of ulterior motives,” the statement said.
The UW-Stout Student Senate also called on other shared governance bodies at UW-Stout, UW System Student Government Associations and county boards to pass similar resolutions.