Ward: Advisory panels would strengthen campus relationships

Feb. 9, 2012

by Greg Bump

Advisory committees consisting of regents and local stakeholders could help foster better communication between the UW System Board of Regents and local campuses, Interim Chancellor David Ward on Wednesday told the Legislative Task Force on UW Restructuring.

Photo: David Ward

Ward

Ward said advisory boards or councils that work with chancellors at each individual campus would not only give chancellors a sounding board, but also help the regents to understand the unique needs of each campus.

UW–Madison has an advisory committee that counsels the chancellor, but Ward told the task force at a meeting in the state Capitol that the inclusion of regents would give the committee greater depth.

“An advisory board of this kind would avoid some of the challenges of communication between the governing board and the campus that developed last spring,” Ward said.

The task force was created in the 2011-13 biennial budget bill to study the UW System’s structure and possible administrative flexibilities. Ward’s proposal met with initial approval from the panel, which includes legislators, regents and former regents, chancellors from other campuses, and UW–Madison Vice Chancellor Darrell Bazzell.

“I’m open to it,” said Rep. Steve Nass, R–Whitewater, saying his ultimate support will depend on what accountability measures are put in place.

UW–Milwaukee Chancellor Michael Lovell stressed regardless of the governance structure, if system institutions don’t receive the budgeting flexibilities they are seeking any reforms would be ineffective.

“We are hoping the task force addresses the additional flexibilities to create new revenue streams” and other fiscal controls, Lovell said.

Ward said there needs to be a debate about the role of the state in funding higher education. He said the “social compact” that held for decades in which the state picked up a large portion of tuition costs became inverted in the 1990s, when “tuition setting became wrapped up in the budget-making of states.”

“It became a zero-sum game between tuition and the state subsidy,” Ward said. “We changed the rules under which we fund higher education. It happened gradually and we never really had a debate about it.”