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UW System Faculty Upset Over Walker Suggestion About Workload

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Gov. Walker said several times, after calling for deep funding cuts in the UW System in exchange for autonomy, that faculty might need to work more.

“They might be able to make savings by asking faculty and staff to consider teaching one more class per semester, things like that,” Walker told reporters this week.

The governor’s comment referred to UW administrators – that they should think about requiring instructors to spend more time in the classroom.

His first mention of the issue was on a local radio program, and it seemed to target instructors.

“Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work. And this authority frees up the UW administration to make those sorts of requests, which I think are needed not only here, but across the country,” Walker said.

The insinuation that UW professors don’t spend a lot of time on their jobs, upsets Richard Grusin, a UWM English professor and director of its Center for 21st Century Studies. Grusin insists faculty members work continuously.

“We work when we get home, we work when we’re on weekends and we work when we’re on vacation, because the job just doesn’t end when you leave the campus. The idea that the workload is light, is absurd,” Grusin says.

Grusin says increased workloads would not cover the $5 million his College of Letters and Science might have to cut in each of the next two years.

"That could be covered by letting go 200 graduate teaching assistants or 40 faculty members.” Grusin says.

University members continue crunching numbers.

Gov. Walker refers to his plan for the UW System, as a new version of his Act 10. It weakened most public unions, so that local governments and school districts could set employee benefits and work rules. Walker then slashed spending to schools and local governments, saying Act 10 gave them the ability to limit spending. Now, Walker says he wants to do the same for the UW System - give it autonomy from state rules, but cut its funding by $300 million and freeze tuition for two years.

Going forward, under his plan, the state would give the UW system a block grant - adjusted for inflation, and university leaders would decide how to spend it and how much they needed to charge students for tuition. State leaders and rules now control much of the process.

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