A nationally unprecedented series of votes of no confidence in UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents, led by AFT-Wisconsin Higher Education Council and American Association of University Professors members, has spread rapidly across the UW System. The first such resolution was passed by the UW-Madison faculty senate in late April, followed quickly by faculty senates at the River Falls, La Crosse, Green Bay, and Stout campuses, and at the 13 two-year institutions comprising the UW Colleges; by the academic staff senate at UW-Milwaukee; and by a historic, unanimous vote of the full UW-Milwaukee faculty. Additionally, AFT members at UW-Eau Claire collected signatures from a third of their colleagues to call for a special all-faculty meeting on the resolution on May 19, the first such meeting there since 1970. At that meeting, faculty in attendance decided to hold an electronic vote on a resolution of no confidence.
The votes are a response to the complicity of Cross and the Regents in undermining tenure, academic freedom, and shared governance, and their failure to advocate for the UW System. James Oberly, a professor of history and a member of AFT local 6481, United Faculty and Academic Staff of UW-Eau Claire, said, “After President Cross solicited presentations from each campus chancellor about the impact of the budget cuts, he interrupted them with a dime-store buzzer trinket and canceled their planned presentations to the Regents. The Board of Regents, the governor, the legislature, and all Wisconsin citizens need to know what’s happening to the UW System, and if our own President won’t make the case, we need a President who will.”
Chad Alan Goldberg, a UW-Madison professor of sociology and the president of AFT local 223, United Faculty and Academic Staff, drafted the initial resolution. “The features of this university that have done so much to motivate me are now under attack,” he wrote in the Wisconsin State Journal. “Worst of all, UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents—the people who should be the university’s biggest advocates—have been complicit in these attacks… As stewards of the university’s academic and educational activities, the faculty have a responsibility to speak out, to educate the public about the damage being done, and to try to preserve and protect the quality of the education we strive to provide for our students and the people of this state. We are standing up for them because they deserve better.”