To allow for greater discussion among the campus community, UW System President Ray Cross said Thursday that conversation on UW-Stevens Point’s controversial proposal to chop 13 humanities majors will continue next fall to allow for full shared governance engagement.
Cross said the Board of Regents will not intervene in the matter before reviewing recommendations through System policies and procedures, calling the plan “very preliminary” and a “campus-based conversation.”
“Until such time, we do not want to unintentionally influence these discussions or ultimately decisions. Clearly, there is keen interest in engagement in the ideas being discussed which we welcome and expect. For now, we will let the process unfold at the campus level,” Cross said. “Respecting that campus-based responsibility and the process, we as System administration, do not wish to disrupt the organic and productive discussion that is currently occuring.”
In a statement about the original proposal, UW-Stevens Point would shift resources from programs with lower enrollment to expand programs with “high-demand career paths” to try and maintain enrollment.
Coupled with a $4.5 million deficit and less state funding, UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Patterson said in an op-ed that the university has done all it can — with the exception of cutting programs — to deal with the debt.
“We have implemented cost-savings, increased workloads, raised class sizes, reduced administrative spending, and nearly eliminated budgets for supplies, equipment, technology and facilities,” Patterson said. “We have restricted travel and professional development, reduced students activities, and declined for years to invest in salaries for our faculty, 95 percent of whom are paid below national averages.”
Earlier this year, Cross was slammed for not consulting shared governance groups throughout the UW System when a proposal to restructure the entire UW System leaked to the public back in October. And in February, Wisconsin Public Radio obtained emails between Cross and Regent Gerald Whitburn where 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.
Following this, student governments at UW-Stout and UW-Parkside declared votes of no confidence in Cross’s leadership. At UW-Madison, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution that called on him to reaffirm his commitment to shared governance.