UW-Stout faculty speak out against proposed changes to UW System schools

Published: Jun. 11, 2020 at 5:53 PM CDT
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A group of faculty members at UW-Stout are speaking out against the "Blueprint for the University of Wisconsin System Beyond COVID-19" proposed by UW System President Ray Cross in May.

The blueprint proposes changes including unified online classes across the UW System, centralizing administrative services and consolidating course offerings at the regional campuses based on projected enrollment.

A group of faculty organized by the UW-Stout Chapter of the AFT union are working to get the word out about these proposed changes and share their thoughts with the UW System.

"The biggest problem is the proposal is proposing some sweeping changes that really would affect student life and education and the people who are most affected, namely students, are not consulted at all," says Jerry Hui, associate professor of music and director of choral activities at UW-Stout.

The faculty members speaking out are concerned that the changes could affect students' ability to choose what they want to study, if UW-Stout can no longer offer certain programs.

"Some students cannot move to another part of the state for their education for many reasons so to limit this is problematic," Hui says.

"This is a real danger to the quality of our educations, this is a real danger in our ability to provide the programs that students want and students need and it is actually a threat to the continued existence of regional institutions like Stout that contribute both economically and culturally and through our knowledge and expertise to our local communities," says Tina Lee, a UW-Stout faculty member in the Social Science Department.

According to the blueprint, the proposed changes are to help with some of the costly effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UW-System. With these changes, also comes the threat of jobs lost.

Hui and Lee say UW Stout Chancellor Katherine Frank has been supportive and expressed her own concern about the proposal.

In a statement to WEAU, Frank writes, "We appreciate the concerns expressed by our faculty and staff regarding President Cross’ proposed Blueprint for the University of Wisconsin System Beyond COVID-19. We are listening closely to those concerns and are working with our shared governance leaders to ensure their concerns are heard at the UW System level and to answer their questions."

No clear timeline has been presented for when these changes could go into effect and Hui and Lee say they wish communication about these plans could be more transparent.

In a statement to WEAU, a UW System spokesperson says, "President Cross’ proposed Blueprint continues to be discussed and reviewed by stakeholders."

To access the blueprint,