For many, the 2010-11 academic year was challenging and unsettling. As faculty walked into their first classes of the fall, we didn’t know who our new governor would be or what our campus’s biennial budget would look like. Faced with uncertainty on these fronts, our Chancellor Biddy Martin announced her proposal for a new relationship between the state and the university–a New Badger Partnership.
The spring semester came, and with it, Madison became the center of the political universe. The streets around the capitol were flooded with protestors opposed to our new governor’s plan to eliminate collective bargaining for most state workers. The Chancellor’s proposal for “autonomy” and “flexibility” for the UW-Madison pitted our campus against others in the system and divided faculty and students along Lake Mendota. And JoAnne Kloppenburg (is the name familiar?) challenged a sitting Supreme Court justice.
It’s August. Governor Walker’s proposal to eliminate collective bargaining for most state workers is law, although it faces legal challenges. The UW must manage for another two years with a tight budget, and while some new administrative “flexibilities” were granted to the UW, the Chancellor’s plan was vetoed by the legislature. Biddy Martin is off to Amherst College in Massachusetts, and in Madison many cars still brandish their “Kloppenburg for Supreme Court” bumper stickers.
As challenging as the year was across the state and the campus, more locally, we are doing well. The Community and Environmental Sociology major continues to grow. We are near 80 majors now, a substantial jump from the days of Rural Sociology, and we will launch a new capstone program for our majors this coming year. At the graduate level, our combined faculty crafted a new funding model that will guarantee support to all incoming students for 5 years. Subsequent graduate chorts will be smaller, but will not experience the worries about funding that our previous cohorts have.