Wisconsin Idea Partnership

Building a Better University of Wisconsin System

What People Are Saying

Support from:


Updated June 24, 2011

UW Leadership Support

UW-Baraboo CEO and Dean Tom Pleger column: UW System needs flexibility
Baraboo News Republic, May 19, 2011

Letter to Joint Finance Committee from Marv Van Kekerix, Provost and Vice Chancellor, UW-Extension:
May 12 letter

"...I ask that you act to keep the UW System—a System that is a model for other states—together and that you support extending flexibilities to all the institutions through the Wisconsin Idea Partnership..." More PDF

Open Letter to all State Legislators from 27 UW Leaders:
May 11 letter signed by 13 UW Chancellors, 13 Campus Executive Officers/Deans, and UW System President Reilly

"...The need for these flexibilities is urgent. With the new budget set to take effect on July 1, any delay in providing these flexibilities would undermine our ability to serve 182,000 students. Moreover, our UW institutions are ready now to accept these new responsibilities, and we are equally ready to embrace new accountability measures that will let you track our performance..." More PDF Related: News release

Chancellors' Letter to Senators and Representatives:
March 23 letter signed by 13 UW Chancellors

"...We support this proposal to provide much needed administrative flexibility to all UW institutions as part of one unified system that includes UW-Madison. More than ever, that flexibility is needed to preserve broad access to a high-quality UW education..." More PDF


UW Colleges Deans' Letter to Legislators:
Letter to Legislators from all current and two former UW Colleges CEOs/Deans

"...We hope you will give the Wisconsin Idea Partnership your most serious consideration. We believe it is the best way to provide all UW institutions with new management tools that will help us mitigate the effects of the proposed $250 million reduction in state funding to UW System....The UW Colleges especially value maintaining access to our students to a unified system to which all of them are guaranteed transfer..." More PDF

Other support from UW Colleges' Deans:

Regent Judith Crain: "Separation proposal hurts UW schools" (Op-ed, Green Bay Press-Gazette, May 10, 2011)

"...At a time when businesses, families and communities are finding creative ways to stretch every dollar, we should make it possible for UW chancellors [to] do the same..." More


Regent Tom Loftus Remarks to PROFS:

"I want to talk to you first tonight not as members of PROFs or the UW faculty, but as fellow citizens of the state of Wisconsin. The people of this state through generations have formed a living and emotional bond with Madison. The Wisconsin Idea that the borders of the state are the borders of the University is in the fiber of the people of this state..." More


UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells: "Q&A: UW-Oshkosh's Wells states case for flexibility, unity" (Appleton Post-Crescent, April 20, 2011)

"...The UW System came together about 40 years ago and it's a very unified, well-established, internationally respected system that has allowed all of our campuses to flourish, including UW-Madison. So it's a system that works, one that a lot of states around the country and countries around the world come to see because they're pretty impressed with how it operates..." More


UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford: "Commentary: UW System priorities: Grow people, jobs, communities" (Racine Journal Times, April 4, 2011)

"As Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, I fully support the Wisconsin Idea Partnership and its goals to keep the University of Wisconsin System as a unified, world-class provider of higher education and to provide maximum flexibility from state bureaucracy to all UW System campuses. These flexibilities will allow all UW chancellors to lead their campuses in meeting the needs of our regions and our state using 21st century management practices..." More


UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson addresses the Joint Finance Committee during its first statewide field hearing on the governor's budget proposal: YouTube video (April 7, 2011)


UW-Superior Vice Chancellor for Campus Life Vicki Hajewski: Remarks to the Joint Finance Committee:

"...The Wisconsin Idea Partnership will create an even stronger, unified system that can tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century..." More (April 8, 2011)


Former President of UW System Board of Regents Tom Lyon: "Don’t dismantle UW System as part of rancorous budget debate"

"...The UW System was created four decades ago after several years of discussion and debate. It has evolved into a national model for providing higher educational value. It would seem extremely ill-advised to dismantle the system with limited discussion and deliberations intertwined in what promises to be a rancorous budget debate." More (Column, Capital Times - April 28, 2011)


Support from Elected Officials

Dane County Board of Supervisors: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF (Posted June 24, 2011)

Walworth County Board of Supervisors: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF (Posted June 24, 2011)

Jefferson County Board of Supervisors and University Extension Education Committee: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee): Letter supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Barron County Extension/Land Conservation Committee: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF (Posted June 3, 2011)

Dodge County Extension Committee: Letter supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

State Representative Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska): Joint statement with Regent Brent Smith in support of the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Waupaca County Board of Supervisors: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay): Senator Dave Hansen released the following statement in support of the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Monroe County Board of Supervisors: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Shawano County Board of Supervisors: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Iron County Board of Supervisors: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Kenosha County Board of Supervisors: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Sauk County Board of Supervisors: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Green County Extension Committee: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Calumet County Board: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Waushara County Board: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Wisconsin Towns Association, membership consists of 1,257 towns and 20 villages.

Douglas County Board: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Representative Evan Wynn (R-Whitewater), Committee on Education

"...Wynn recently told Whitewater residents during a public hearing he thought the plan [to separate UW-Madison from the UW System] would significantly increase tuition and end benefits given to veteran students attending UW-Madison..." More

State Senator Pam Galloway (R-Wausau), Joint Legislative Council

"...Galloway said she opposes splitting the University of Wisconsin Madison campus from the rest of the UW system. Instead, every campus should be given the flexibility on purchasing and hiring proposed by Madison officials, she said..." (Wausau Daily Herald, April 25, 2011)

WACEC (Wisconsin Associated County Extension Committees): Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

City of Baraboo: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Florence County Board of Supervisors: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF Passed unanimously April 19, 2011

Pierce County Board: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF "...The board approved a resolution supporting the planned Wisconsin Idea Partnership, which calls for keeping the current UW system intact..." (Pierce County Herald, May 10, 2011)

Portage County Board: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

Sheboygan County Board: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF Passed April 19, 2011

12 Assembly Republican Legislators representing UW campuses state their support for retaining UW-Madison as part of the UW System and granting flexibilities for all campuses PDF Sent to Assembly leadership on April 20, 2011

Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls): Member of the Joint Committee on Finance

"...'There's quite a bit of consensus, or there's quite a bit of interest, in keeping the System together at this time,' said Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, also a member of the budget committee..." More

Senator Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse), Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education

May 24 release: "Kapanke Reissues Statement on Supporting Flexibility for All University of Wisconsin Campuses" PDF

March 29 release: "Sen. Kapanke statement on the Wisconsin Idea Partnership"

"...I fully support increased flexibility for the UW System institutions to accomplish their educational objectives as outlined in the Wisconsin Idea Partnership..." More PDF

Letter from Representative Dean Knudson (R-Hudson), Vice-Chair of the Colleges and Universities Committee: "The UW system split not ready for Budget" (April 21)

"Many of UW-Madison’s objectives may be accomplished by statute without granting public authority...Many of the flexibilities sought may be achieved by statute while maintaining legislative oversight...” More

Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), Chairman of the state Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee
Opposes UW-Madison autonomy plan

"...I understand that significant fiscal austerity measures will be proposed for the UW System as a part of the 2011-2013 Biennial Budget.  Such actions will be unavoidable and it will become necessary for major reforms within the UW System.  However, I will fight to maintain UW-Madison as the flagship institution within the System.  Its presence within the System has both financial and academic benefits to all of the other UW System campuses. I am convinced that separating UW-Madison from the System would be a shortsighted policy with long term negative impacts for students, faculty and the taxpayers..." More PDF

Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), Chair of the Senate Committee on Education

May 20 release: "Olsen wants UW split out of budget" PDF

March 29 release: "UW-Madison split questioned"

"...The people I represent in the state senate are hard working, and they see the time and money they put into higher education as a carefully-made investment. Luckily, when a resident from my district decides they want to pursue further education, they can look to many affordable opportunities in the University of Wisconsin System....I believe any proposal to split UW-Madison from the rest of the system should be considered separate from the biennial budget process where it can be more fully examined..." More PDF

Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center)
Supports for flexibility for all UW campuses in a unified system

"...I'm 100 percent in favor of greater flexibility for Madison, as well as the system as a whole...We have to think of all the young people in this state and the system we have now, where they work cooperatively. All the campuses (being connected) yields benefits to all the students, not just kids who happen to get into Madison..." (Baraboo News Republic, April 14, 2011)



Support from Chambers of Commerce/Business

  • Plover Area Business Association: Letter supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF (Posted June 2, 2011)

  • Kenosha Area Business Alliance: Letter supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF (May 31, 2011)

  • Portage County Business Council: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF (May 18, 2011)

  • Centergy: Central Wisconsin Alliance for Economic Development, representing the counties of Lincoln, Marathon, Wood, Portage, and Adams
  • Momentum West, the regional economic development organization that represent 10 counties and includes UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire, and UW-River Falls: Resolution supporting WIP, unanimously passed April 18, 2011 PDF

  • Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

  • Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry: Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF

  • Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce

    April 13, 2011

    Dear Senator Grothman:

    At their April 12, 2011 meeting, the Board of Directors of the Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce voted to take a position favoring the Wisconsin Idea Partnership specifically as it applies to "Purchasing and Procurement." Our Board is in agreement with University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Chancellor, Richard Wells, in his statement "Campus meets commerce: Are we open for local businesses?," that this aspect of the proposal will "diffuse procurement powers, giving each system campus the key to open the gates of competition to local businesses."

    Thank you for your attention, consideration, and support.

    Nancy Hundt
    Executive Director

  • Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce: Resolution: Supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF Adopted April 28, 2011 (The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce has about 1,200 members.) More about the resolution.

  • Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce: Resolution adopted March 25, 2011

  • "...The Wisconsin Idea Partnership is all about furthering that shared success in innovative ways. It would help Wisconsin untangle the existing counterproductive and overly bureaucratic bidding and contract systems that prevent smart, localized, inclusive procurement decisions at each UW campus. Continuing the frustrating reliance on often-limiting state contract lists that cut out local businesses from competition will not save our institutions and taxpayers money; and, it will not jumpstart our economy..." More



Support from Faculty, Staff, and Student Government Groups

UW-River Falls Student Association, Letter and resolution of support PDF

United Council of UW Students, Resolution supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership PDF (passed unanimously May 1, 2011)

Charles E. Clark, UW-Stevens Point's Vice Chair of Faculty Senate: Statement to the Joint Finance Committee (April 7, 2011)

UW-Stevens Point Professors address the Joint Finance Committee during its first statewide field hearing on the governor's budget proposal (April 7, 2011)

Sherry Speth, President, Sheboygan County Master Gardeners - Letter to Senator Grothman (March 30, 2011)

"...As a beneficiary of and supporter of UW-Extension, I wish to express my strong support for the Wisconsin Idea Partnership..." More

Donald Nichols, former president of UW-Madison's PROFS, former chair of the University Committee, and former Director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs: Perspective on Public Authority: “The University Should Reject the Governor’s Proposal for Independence”

"...We would like more freedom, but the lack of mention of “Freedom from whom” is telling, and the lack of any convincing statement about the strengths of the new organization compared to those of the existing one shows us to be babes in the political wilderness. I oppose the creation of an independent authority as proposed by the Governor." More

Harry L. Peterson, UW-Madison Chancellor's office administrator from 1978-1990, including Chief of Staff for Chancellor Donna Shalala. Remarks to PROFS:

"...While the UW-Madison is the biggest presence and influence in higher education in Wisconsin, we are not so big or so influential that we can beat 12 other universities and 13 two-year colleges, located in virtually every significant center of population in Wisconsin..." More

UW-Eau Claire Resolutions:

UW-Extension Resolutions:

UW-Fond du Lac Resolution:

UW-Green Bay Resolutions:

UW-La Crosse Resolution:

UW-Madison Teaching Assistants' Association Motion:

  • March 20, 2011 - After holding an informational session, the TAA voted to OPPOSE the New Badger Partnership. The full motion reads:

    The TAA opposes the New Badger Partnership, especially the separation of UW-Madison from the UW System, the formation of the public authority model, and the threat to affordability and accessibility it poses to public education and the lack of protection for labor unions on campus. The TAA also objects to the non-transparent and undemocratic process by which the New Badger Partnership was designed.

UW-Oshkosh Faculty Senate Resolutions: Unanimously approved at its meeting, March 16, 2011

UW-Parkside Resolutions supporting the Wisconsin Idea Partnership:

UW-Platteville Resolutions:

UW-River Falls Resolution:

UW-Stevens Point:

UW-Superior Resolution:

UW-Whitewater Faculty Senate support of “Wisconsin Idea Partnership”- Unanimously approved at the Spring All-Faculty Meeting, March 15, 2011

Systemwide Student Representatives' Letter:

Christopher Hays, Associate Professor of Anthropology, UW-Washington County - Letter to Senator Grothman (Also sent to Rep. Strachota) (March 30, 2011)

"... The Wisconsin Idea Partnership is designed to extend financial and strategic flexibility to all University of Wisconsin institutions and keep together what is arguably the finest higher education system in the country. Before I began teaching in the University of Wisconsin Colleges 10 years ago, I had either taught or been a student at top ranked state institutions in Virginia, New York, and Louisiana; and I can honestly say that the University of Wisconsin system of colleges and universities is the most coherent, comprehensive, and excellent higher education system that I have ever encountered..." More


Individual Letters of Support

Letter from John Schoenwaelder, UW-Parkside alum, parent of UW graduates, business owner, and community leader:

"...The Wisconsin Idea Partnership...is extremely important to me, and many other constituents, around the State of Wisconsin, that recognize the value of a University of Wisconsin System that continues to include the campuses of Madison and Milwaukee..." More PDF

Letter from the 12 Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESA) Agency Administrators in Wisconsin:

"...The CESAs in Wisconsin serve all of the public preK-12 school districts as well as many private schools in our state. The twelve CESA administrators of the CESA Statewide Network (CSN) unanimously oppose the separation of UW-Madison from the University of Wisconsin System...for a number of reasons: We see no data to suggest this will serve the UW System or UW-Madison. We see duplication of administrative and academic structures adding a new and costly bureaucracy. We are concerned that the separation will impede collaboration between UW-Madison and System..." More PDF

Letter to Legislators from Thomas Nelson, Director and Past Chair of the Advisory Board for UW-Parkside School of Business and Technology and member of UW-Parkside’s Foundation Board:

"...It is my recommendation that the current University of Wisconsin System remain firmly intact but be modified to provide executive and managerial flexibility and make it similar to what would be in a non-government corporate structure. I believe these current constraints are the key reason which limits our University System from fully achieving success in meeting their challenges and achieving their missions..." More PDF

Dean Emeritus, UW-Green Bay:

"...I feel it would not be a good idea to change the University of Wisconsin structure...I can not understand how a decision of this magnitude could be inserted into a budget bill. I received my graduate degree from UW-Madison and my undergraduate degree from UW-La Crosse...I received an outstanding education at La Crosse that led me to working with students at the U.W. Center at Green Bay, graduate school at Madison, then an opportunity to work with Dr. Koopman to start the new Marshfield campus, back to Madison to work in the central office of the Center System, ending up helping start the new UW-Green Bay campus.  My whole adult life has been serving students of the U.W. System---I do not want to see it broken apart."

Former UW employee and parent of UW alumni:

"As a child listening to the Wisconsin School of the Air on WHA, I was fascinated by the phrase that the boundaries of the campus are the borders of the State. I have worked for UW-Extension and UW-Madison. Some of my children are third generation UW-Madison graduates, in addition to receiving degrees from and/or attending UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Richland and UW-Stevens Point. It concerns me that  a segregation of the UW-Madison will reinforce the perception that the 'boundaries' of the UW-Madison are 65-square-miles surrounded by reality. The UW-Madison should be standing together with the other campuses to form a united front for survival. If we segregate, we most certainly will be pitted against each other down the road."

UW-Madison faculty members:

  • "I am writing to tell you that I am skeptical about the New Badger Partnership and its merits for the UW-Madison. I especially am worried about the oversight board that would be appointed, as I understand 11 of its members would be appointed by the Governor as I am most worried about his policies and practices to date. I urge careful consideration of this proposal. I believe UW-Madison faculty believe the ground is shifting under our feet."
  • "I write to express my strong support of the University of Wisconsin System and its efforts to remain a whole, integrated entity. Your efforts to ensure that no one campus is treated as separate (and unequal) are greatly appreciated."

UW-Madison alumni:

"We are very opposed to the separation of the Madison campus from the State Wide System. I can't believe you would propose this with little or no discussion with alumni. Please reconsider this."

UW-Madison staff member:

"I do not feel the UW-Madison should split from UW System. Without sufficient examination of the pros and cons of such a change, and without the benefit of an opportunity for public input, employees, students and alumni cannot make an informed decision on the matter. We need much more information about potential benefits of such a change before implementing the change."

UW-Madison graduate students:

  • "I just read your open response to Chancellor Martin, and as a graduate student and TA here at Madison, I want to personally thank you for standing up to this bill and the proposed fragmentation of the UW System.  I have been following the situation closely, like many of the grad students and TAA members, and we need as much administrative leadership and support as possible right now.  Thank you for your work on this matter."

  • "...Professor Suri, however, offers a deeply troubling defense of a potential UW split and demonstrates the kind of mixed reasoning that has fueled the heated events here in Madison for the past week...Finally, to note over and over again that higher education requires administrative discretion different from the Department of Transportation, for example, neglects the issue that so deeply troubles many of us – the separation of UW-Madison from the rest of the state’s postsecondary infrastructure..." More

UW-Madison and UW-Oshkosh alum:

"[President Reilly:] So appreciate your stand on keeping Madison with the state universities. This is an issue that is very important to me. I got a Bachelor's Degree from Madison in 1969 and a Master's from Oshkosh and understand the issue well. I have talked to many people and they feel as we do...Keep a strong voice on this issue."

UW-Milwaukee student:

"Two tiered system is unthinkable."

Associate Professor Emeritus, UW-Milwaukee:

"...Although I support more independence for the system as a whole, I do not support the separation of UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee from the rest of the system. Doing so will create a seemingly two if not three class structure. I'm particularly concerned about Chancellor Biddy Martin's position that UW-Madison should stand alone...Chancellor Martin's plans would make it even more difficult for highly qualified Wisconsin students to attend UW-Madison because they will be unable to afford it. I urge you to fight to maintain UWS as is..."

UW alum and teacher:

"I moved to Wisconsin eleven years ago...after conducting some research to find the best educational systems in the country and deciding on Wisconsin...As a dual-degree holder from the UW system, I want to thank you for your opposition to Governor Scott Walker's proposal to remove UW-Madison from the larger UW system as part of his budget fix proposal... I want UW to remain an exceptional university I can send my...children to in the future."