Give Rebecca Blank credit for making operational improvements at the UW, taking a four-and-a-half-year degree back down to a four-year degree saving students a whole semester of tuition, along with increasing the graduation rate.
Now it’s time for the new chancellor and new president to take a cue from her, but instead, they and the Evers administration created a budget that proposes to gobble up the vast majority of the $7.1 billion state surplus, but wait, that’s not enough, they want to increase tuition on families by 5% too. Talk about being incredibly self-fish and greedy.
They’re saying that no other state needs should be met and the taxpayers should get none of their money back for overpaying and it should all go to the UW.
Evers’ demands also include a new hanger and a new King Air jet for Evers. (Whatever happened to his ‘green’ advocacy? I guess he sets that aside when he wants to fly around in a fancy new corporate jet while the rest of us schmucks drive or take commercial.) Plus $25 million for a 16-bed facility in Oregon. Did I miss something? That’s $1.5 million per bed! I could build a luxury house for each bed or 85 apartments for the total.
Here’s my suggestion. The UW administration building and the humanities and Vilas buildings are all of that age when concrete wasn’t very good and they all need to be replaced before someone gets hurt. Two massive concrete panels already fell of the admin building. Likewise, the upper deck at Camp Randall is a real risk, with chunks of concrete falling off and exposed rebar on the underside.
A recent announcement that the state is going to abandon GEF 2 (The State Natural Resources Building) and GEF 3 (The State Education Building) and the state office building on Wilson Street due to “deferred” maintenance (that’s code for ‘neglected’ maintenance) is more evidence that the administration and UW don’t think properly maintaining their building assets is a priority. (Likewise with the Madison school district.) That’s six buildings I can point to that have been neglected and will have to be torn down.
Why is it that liberals never want to perform routine maintenance? Because it’s not sexy and doesn’t win votes. They would rather spend the money on hiring sustainability coordinators and sign police and now, ‘equity’ managers and consultants or whatever the latest fad is.
As for the 5% increase in tuition, ahh, they seem to think that since inflation is up, their tuition should go up too, but that’s not how it works. Hardworking Wisconsin families (many of whom have had their kids rejected from entering the UW) have lost over $5,000 in purchasing power this past year thanks to Biden, which means families have less income to spend.
Plus, UW-Madison let in almost 50,000 students this past year, up about 9,000 from 2017. From what I understand, most of those are out-of-state students paying almost $40,000 each in tuition and fees. That’s roughly $360 million in additional revenue to UW-Madison alone!
Holy crap. And they want more! Where did the $360 million go? (Meanwhile, one developer told me that the UW called them and demanded that they stop renting to freshmen, that freshmen should be the exclusive domain of the UW – even though they don’t have enough dorm rooms with the additional students! That’s an anti-trust and fair housing violation by the way.)
In addition to that, the UW is hiring more foreign teachers – when federal law requires those jobs go to Americans first and plenty of cheeseheads would love to have a job that requires only a few hours of teaching for only 8 months a year in exchange for a six-figure salary.
So, in summary, the UW wants billions more of Wisconsin families’ hard-earned income so that they can support more non-residents learning and pay six-figure salaries to foreign professors, many of whom frankly, don’t speak clear English making learning that much more difficult. This is a business after all, and the customers are entitled to receive full value for their tuition payments and that means being able to afford and understand their professors.
If I was the UW and Evers, I would make a less aggressive request, and I would offer to tie those requests to specific performance improvements (like Blank achieved), such as fewer non-residents being admitted, more Wisconsin residents being admitted, and Wisconsinites teaching. And with a request for more money, a lot of that should directly go to offset tuition for Wisconsin families. Let’s have some real performance criteria put in place.
More money = lower tuition. It’s a simple equation that even math professors should understand.
T. Wall holds a degree from the UW in economics and an M.S. in real estate analysis and valuation and is a real estate developer. Disclaimer: The opinions of the writer are not necessarily those of this publication or the left!