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The End of Research in Wisconsin

UW–Madison spent $9 million to keep top faculty from being poached, but the damage has been done.

By Rebecca Schuman, Slate

This past June, American academia went into an uproar over Gov. Scott Walker’s new budget in Wisconsin, which not only cut $250 million from higher education, but also severely weakened shared faculty governance and effectively destroyed professor tenure at state universities. Specifically, any professor in the system—tenured or not—could be dismissed or laid off by the 18-member Board of Regents using maddeningly vague criteria: “when such an action is deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision requiring program discontinuance, curtailment, modification or redirection.”

This, when combined with the faculty’s diminished role in governing the university—and thus determining such things as which programs should continue, be curtailed, or get modified—basically meant that these regents—16 of whom were appointed by Walker—could fire anyone, at any time, for any reason.

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