Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What's Good For the U?

Some Input from Parents, Employees, and Administrators

A Board of Regents Open Forum, Wednesday 13 June

This afternoon Mr. B. attended an open forum sponsored by the Board of Regents that was for the purpose of taking public comments on the proposed budget. It is not, as Regent Simmons pointed out, for the purpose of dialog, so questions, rhetorical or otherwise, were not answered. It was a strange mix of administrators, such as a dean and a department chairman, kowtowing, and some interesting input from parents of students. There was also a well coordinated effort by a labor union, AFSCME, that represents clerical and technical people at the U. People who wanted to speak are only allowed 3 minutes but a number of the union folks chained 3 minute statements together that made a reasonable case that their compensation has been unjustly neglected in recent years.

Because the whole performance was so interesting, I did not take good notes. Thus the above synopsis will have to do. However one of the parents who made a statement has kindly sent me a transcript of her remarks that I give below. But she is a Minnesota resident who has a daughter attending school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Judy Rheault, a Minnesota resident and parent of a current UW-Madison student said:

For nearly 40 years, Wisconsin and Minnesota have supported a tuition reciprocity program which is responsible for expanding opportunities and increasing affordability to over 28,000 students per year.

Our family history includes 2 generations of participants in the reciprocity program.

Why would you end this?

After years of Minnesota under-funding Higher Education, leading to double digit tuition increases… versus Wisconsin who has remained committed to fund Higher Education & retaining lower tuition costs. The Board of Regents have concluded that the tuition reciprocity agreement is unfair.

Wisconsin returned 7.8 million to the MN general fund for interstate payments. I encourage this Board to demand the redistribution of funds back to the University system.

I encourage this Board to hold President Bruininks and his staff accountable for their business decisions and eliminate the reckless negotiations of Athletic contracts and buyouts.

Over the past 7 years:

Coaching buyouts totaling 7.42 million, not including legal fees

The pending construction of an athletic stadium for an estimated 302 million dollars

I am amazed that athletic costs are approved and buy-outs are paid without questions, however, reciprocity is scrutinized.

I implore you to redirect your attention to approving the Minnesota-Wisconsin reciprocity agreement.

Return your financial commitment to the Academic Athlete and create a winning game plan for reciprocity!

Thank you for your consideration and commitment to the parents of students who participate in and value reciprocity!

Mr. Bonzo has asked some of the same questions in previous posts on the Periodic Table. Thus it is a little comforting to know that he is not the only person who is very concerned about these issues. I hope that the Board of Regents will consider Judy Rheault's points and make some effort to look into the issues raised, rather than simply rubber stamping OurLeader's plans. In the long run, I hope that sanity will return to BigU. We are not going to be one of the top three public research universities in the world, but nevertheless we have a lot of improvements to make. Maybe we should make our goal to be in the top half of the Big Ten ?

Ciao, Bonzo