Wisconsin Faculty’s Mass Exodus

, Malcolm A. Kline, 10 Comments

He may not be getting as much attention as The Donald but Governor Scott Walker’s higher education reforms in Wisconsin are having a real world impact there. “Who wants to work in a state where tenure is an abstraction?,” Kelly Wilz, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County, writes in a column which appeared on the Academe Blog maintained by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

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Apparently, not many of her colleagues, even the tenured ones. “The emails keep rolling in,” Wilz writes.  “More colleagues leaving–not for better pay, not because they didn’t love their jobs, but because of uncertainty.”

Governor Walker urged state university administrators to take a fresh look at tenure in making administrative decisions. Interestingly, from neighboring Illinois, two law professors from Northwestern offered a surprisingly different perspective on tenure in a column which appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

“All the pressures facing American higher education make this a good time to reconsider its unusual employment structure,” John O. McGinnis and Max Schanzenbach wrote. “False claims about academic freedom are not going to protect higher education from the realities of technological change, an aging professoriate, and an increasingly demanding and indebted student body.”

“Mr. Walker is doing the educational establishment a favor by suggesting gradual reforms before a crisis necessitates more radical ones.”