The University of Wisconsin System leadership praised Gov. Tony Evers 2021-2023 budget proposed last week, as it nearly doubled the already-ambitious initial request to help UW pull out of its financial deficit.
Wisconsin lawmakers must implement permanent rule changes by May to meet federal guidance on university cases of sexual assault and misconduct, though the provisions are not likely to last long under President Joe Biden’s administration.
UW Health on Thursday moved back 4,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments set for next week because of inadequate supply, as the state prepared to make educators and other groups eligible for shots Monday — adding some 700,000 residents to about 1.6 million eligible now.
Quoted: “Indoor settings with prolonged exposure present the greatest risk for transmission, hence why universal masking is particularly important – even if the individuals are immunized,” said Jim Conway, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Global Health Institute.
Patrick Remington, former epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s preventive medicine residency program, said if lawmakers who choose to go maskless are vaccinated against COVID-19, then the risk is lower.
“One obvious question for people not wearing masks is whether they have been vaccinated. If they have, then it seems to be a reasonable thing to do,” Remington said. “That is, the vaccine provides sufficient protection to significantly reduce the risk of becoming sick or getting others sick.”
Gov. Tony Evers delivered his $91 billion budget proposal last week, including $191 million in new investments in the University of Wisconsin System over the 2021-2023 biennium.
Quoted: David Canon is a political scientist at UW-Madison, and he echoes many of Gardner’s concerns.
“In my view, it’s clearly voter suppression…Our elections are very secure. The number of cases of voter fraud are so infinitesimally small that it’s just not something that changes the outcome of elections,” Canon says.
Noted: According to the announcement, the clinics will collaborate with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, the University of Wisconsin System, local public health departments and other local partners.
An initiative to erect a statue in honor of Vel Phillips — a prominent civil rights activist and the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School — at the Wisconsin State Capitol is more than halfway past its fundraising goal.
Gov. Tony Evers wants to spend $2.4 billion on building upgrades across Wisconsin — nearly half of which would be spent on University of Wisconsin System campuses.
Gov. Tony Evers proposed an increase of $190 million in investments in the University of Wisconsin System over the 2021-2023 biennium as part of a budget proposal delivered this week that prioritized funding for technical colleges and college access and affordability.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wants to spend about $2.4 billion over the next two years on state building projects, with about $1 billion of the proposed money going to the University of Wisconsin System.
At the UW-Madison campus, building projects would include Music Hall restoration, a new engineering facility, utilities renovation on Engineering Drive and a new College of Letters and Science building that relates to the university’s goal of demolishing the Mosse Humanities Building.
But three of the governor’s major spending priorities deserve broad bipartisan support:
- Investing in our universities, especially UW-Madison.
- Encouraging more private investment in promising technology startups across the state.
- Expanding access to high-speed internet in rural areas.
At least three-fourths of all University of Wisconsin System classes will be in-person this fall according to system interim President Tommy Thompson.
University of Wisconsin System interim President Tommy Thompson told campus chancellors to aim to have at least 75% of their courses in person next fall, with the hope that COVID-19 vaccines will allow a return to some normalcy.
The legacy of Vel Phillips is one filled with firsts.
In 1951, she was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. In 1956, she was the first woman and first Black member of Milwaukee’s City Council. In 1971, she was the first woman and first Black judge in Milwaukee County.
In the 2021-23 budget package Gov. Evers presented Tuesday, an additional $191 million is allocated towards the UW System — doubling the number UW officials asked for and marking the largest state funding increase in nearly two decades.
Phillips, who died in 2018, experienced many “firsts” in her lifetime. She was the first Black woman to graduate from the UW-Madison Law School, the first female judge in Milwaukee County and the first Black judge in Wisconsin.
Gov. Tony Evers is calling for a major spending boost in public higher education, doubling the University of Wisconsin System’s own request in a proposal that would be the System’s largest state funding increase in at least two decades.
In higher education, Evers is looking to direct $191 million more in general purpose revenue toward the University of Wisconsin System over the next two years, including funding to backfill the continued tuition freeze implemented by former Gov. Scott Walker.
Evers’ $91 billion budget includes $1.6 billion in new tax revenue along with about $600 million in tax cuts, a major boost in University of Wisconsin funding and extension of the tuition freeze, and 2% annual raises for state employees.
Evers’ budget would increase state spending on the University of Wisconsin System by about $192 million over the next two years. The governor would continue the UW System tuition freeze and backfill it with more than $50 million in state funding to offset the lost tuition revenue.
It’s a challenging time for colleges and universities, and for the students who want to attend those institutions to prepare for life in a rapidly changing world.
“Especially now, with COVID, we are seeing that (high school) seniors especially are having a difficult time getting prepared for college,” UW-System President Tommy Thompson said at a Feb. 3 press conference announcing plans for a new precollege pipeline initiative.
Quoted: When studying the impact of mask mandates, it’s important to consider whether people follow them and if they’re enforced, said Ajay Sethi, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He said it can be difficult to assess mandates individually when they’re issued with other public health guidelines, but he believes the Kansas study offered compelling data on the matter.
“You could argue that with or without a mandate, people might wear a mask because that’s what they do and the mandate is just confirming what they do,” he said. “At the end of the day, an entire county had fewer cases.”
Quoted: The rate has stayed consistent in the state with the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Workers earning minimum wage who work 2,000 hours a year — 40 hours for 50 weeks — make about $14,500 before taxes and work expenses.
“That’s just about enough to keep one single person out of poverty,” said economist Tim Smeeding, a professor of public affairs and economics at the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Quoted: Erica Turner, a University of Wisconsin-Madison education professor who specializes in equity issues, said the incoming superintendent will face steeper-than-usual challenges. Education funding in Wisconsin, as in many states, hadn’t fully recovered from the recession more than a decade ago by the time the pandemic began. With some state revenue sources having taken a hit, and the unexpected costs of managing a pandemic, Turner said the new superintendent will likely have to contend with more limited funding.
“This is an equity issue because it has been the case, and it’s likely to continue to be, that a lot of the cuts will come from equalization aid — efforts to make school funding more equitable,” she said. “For educational equity, you need someone who can be an effective advocate around the budget, and then also will have to prioritize that what cuts happen, and how they happen, happen in an equitable way.”
Quoted: Barry Burden, director of UW-Madison’s Elections Research Center, said the fall spending levels appears to be a case of politics in Wisconsin “moving in line with some surprising national trends.”
He said both the presidential campaigns and congressional campaigns around the country more than doubled their spending from 2016, and the jump may be the biggest step increase ever between two consecutive presidential election cycles.
Quoted: “Overall, when I read the study, I think I’m looking at clear documentation of racial disparities in sentencing in the in/out decision,” said Pamela Oliver, an emerita sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Oliver said disparities in sentencing usually show up with a judge’s ruling on whether to lock someone up — which she called the “in/out decision” — not in the length of the sentence. She said that was the finding of the 2007 Wisconsin Sentencing Commission report, which was removed from the state website several years ago.
Included is $12.2 million in minor facilities renewal projects at UW-Madison. The university plans to replace outdated fire alarm and smoke detection systems and steam distribution pits, according to the Board of Regents’ capital planning and budget committee meeting materials.
UW-Madison and its affiliated entities are an economic engine contributing $30.8 billion a year to the Wisconsin economy, according to a new report commissioned by the university and funded by UW Foundation.
Evers’ office announced Monday he has appointed John W. Miller to the UW Board of Regents, an 18-member board that passes policies and rules for the University of Wisconsin System campuses.
First, education is king. Don’t ever allow UW-Madison to be anything but a premier, world-class institution. State and private dollars invested now will be leveraged considerably by virtue of the fact that most of the federal investment will go to expanded research at universities such as UW.
After years of wage freezes, a union representing 225 UW System trade employees negotiated a 1.81% raise for this year, which ended up being less than the 2% raise their non-union colleagues received … “There’s been a range of responses to Act 10,” David Nack, a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Labor Education said. “Workers often want to or need to find a way to effectively represent their interests with their employer. Act 10 doesn’t change any of that.”
New figures show the University of Wisconsin System saw $317.7 million in lost revenue and additional expenses between March and December as universities continue to weather the widespread budgetary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has caused the “biggest financial disaster” the university has ever seen, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said. Through federal stimulus money, furloughs, pay cuts for leadership, travel restrictions and targeted budget cuts to different units, Blank said she’s optimistic the financial gap can be resolved over the next two years. But she also renewed her case for giving the university borrowing authority.
Over 200 University of Wisconsin nursing and pharmacy students have volunteered to help administer COVID-19 vaccines at statewide mobile clinics in local high-need areas.
Quoted: “For over six decades, the UW Law School has been privileged to publish and provide a home for the Wisconsin Jury Instructions. This has been a labor of love, grounded in our deep commitment to the Wisconsin Idea,” wrote UW Law School Dean Dan Tokaji.
“We are delighted that the jury instructions will be digitized and made free to the public from this point forward, thanks to the diligent efforts of the state courts and many people working with them.”
To have a statue of the late civil rights legend and political trailblazer Vel Phillips, Wisconsin’s first Black secretary of state, outside of the state Capitol building in downtown Madison would mean so much to so many people, including State Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison) who would see it every day at her work.
Quoted: Melissa Kono is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who works in community development and is raising a family on a farm. “Work-life balance,” she said, is not a farming staple.
In a panel discussion Monday evening, UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson said he didn’t pursue a plan to lift the ongoing freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition because Republican legislative leaders told him it could jeopardize the system’s budget request.
University of Wisconsin System Interim President Tommy Thompson says Republican leaders in the state Legislature warned him not to include any tuition increases in his first budget request or it wouldn’t “go anywhere.”
Quoted: Committee co-chairman Dr. Jonathan Temte of the University of Wisconsin-Madison agreed.
“Our recommendation should be based on the scientific evidence, the ethical pinnings, and the feasibility,” Temte said. “And on all three accounts, one would say, absolutely. If we are saying we’re going to punish these people yet again — because they are being punished for their crimes at this point in time — this constitutes kind of a double punishment and treating them very, very differently and I’m very uncomfortable with that.”
Quoted: Barry Burden, professor of political science at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said Johnson’s strong allegiance to President Donald Trump, as well as his position within the Senate majority and chairmanship of a powerful committee, positioned him squarely in the national spotlight.
“That combination has been really effective for him for the last several years and has given him a national platform,” Burden said. “And now he’s essentially losing all of that.”
Quoted: But fellow co-chairman Dr. Jonathan Temte, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said politics shouldn’t play a role in public health decision-making.
“It is our purview to make whatever we think is the best recommendation,” he said. “I don’t think it’s ethically acceptable to say we’re going to do congregate living but exclude the incarcerated, because by definition, that’s congregate living.”
At the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a spokesperson noted that COVID-19 cases rose in every county in the state following Sept. 1, when students came to campus. “As cases of COVID-19 continue at high levels across Wisconsin, UW-Madison remains committed to doing its part to keep transmission low,” the spokesperson said via email. “Despite a rise in cases early in the fall semester — caught and contained quickly thanks to robust testing and rapid efforts to isolate positive students and quarantine those at risk of exposure — campus experienced a low level of cases after the third week of September.” The university also provided 20,000 free tests to the general public.
The committee, which meets again Friday, also discussed whether to add faculty and instructors at universities and technical colleges to the group including K-12 teachers and staff.
Noted: Trammell was born in southern Nigeria but considers herself a Madisonian after living the majority of her life here, she said. She grew up in the Northport Apartments on Madison’s north side before moving to the south side. She graduated from West High School and got her undergraduate and law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She said growing up as a Black child in Wisconsin she never visualized or envisioned herself as a judge. She is the first lawyer in her family and the first judge.
Noted: Torsrud could be the first of dozens of inmates serving life who might get out sooner. The Public Interest Justice Initiative, a joint project between Chisholm’s office and the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, was launched in 2019 after the Remington Center at the University of Wisconsin Law School found that more than half the 128 inmates serving life sentences for juvenile offenses were from Milwaukee County.
Michael Backman was 16 years old when he went to prison.
At the time, he could barely read or write, barely understand all the legalese floating around him as he dealt with the repercussions of the day in September 1991 when he drunkenly burglarized a home and killed a man.
A statue of the first Black woman to become secretary of state in Wisconsin could go up in front of the state Capitol building as early as next summer.
A new report shows the University of Wisconsin System paid out nearly $70 million in coronavirus-related refunds to students last year.
Noted: Also Monday, Andrew Petersen, president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the system is having conversations with the federal government about how it can help distribute the vaccine.
The success campuses have had in partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide rapid-result testing to Wisconsinites was an example of how UW’s reach could help with the vaccination effort, he said.
Since 2013, tuition for in-state undergraduate students at UW campuses has been frozen.It’s helped protect students from the rising costs of college tuition, but a new report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum found this incentive for students is threatening the UW’s ability to be competitive against other universities. “The tuition freeze is a clear part of that, but you also see stagnant state funding, enrollment declines that are greater than other states nationally … all things that were adding up before COVID-19,” said Jason Stein, Research Director for the Wisconsin Policy Forum.
Specifically, the report calls for investing in county-based educators employed through UW-Madison’s Extension division. The task force recommended partnering with UW Extension to help every region of the state understand its assets and create an area-specific development strategy.
Few states controlled tuition at their public universities as tightly as Wisconsin has done in recent years and the handful that did offset the squeeze with some additional state money, according to a new report released Tuesday.
A new report on the financial health of Wisconsin’s state universities and technical colleges found lagging state investment, enrollment challenges and — for University of Wisconsin schools — an ongoing tuition freeze as some of several factors threatening their competitiveness.
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents approved 2% raises across the board for campus chancellors during a closed session Thursday afternoon.
The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents unanimously voted Thursday to approve its 2021-2023 pay plan request, asking Governor Tony Evers to fully fund pay increases for System employees.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is requesting that the Board of Regents approve increased tuition plans for some graduate and professional programs, a process that has taken place every two years since December 2014.
University of Wisconsin System employees would receive 2% and 2.5% pay increases over the next two fiscal years under a plan officials released Monday, but the annual raises require legislative approval and COVID-19 complicates the state budget picture.