Saturday, October 7, 2017

GOP plan working- UW enrollment, programs fall while Koch/Bradley influence grows.

In addition to the right-wing-stacked UW Board of Regents approving a regressive “freedom from consequence” law for talentless hate mongerers today, the Regents also found out that not as many people are attending UW schools this year. The largest percentage drop in total enrollment among the 4-year campuses happened at UW-Stevens Point, which lost nearly 5% of its total enrollment (over 400 students), and has had total enrollment decline nearly 15% in the 4 years of Scott Walker's freeze on in-state tuition.

Combined with the lack of funding from the state level to cushion them, and UWSP is looking at program reductions and layoffs, and they aren't the only ones. As Karen Herzog of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel summarizes, lower enrollments mean more budget problems at several UW campuses outside of the Madison flagship.
UW-Stevens Point is now looking for ways to cut costs, and is developing plans to eliminate staff positions and programs to invest in areas more likely to increase enrollment, such as its geographic information science program, the Stevens Point Journal reported last month.

One cut already proposed: UW-Stevens Point will likely eliminate its Geography and Geology Department, although not necessarily those majors….

UW-Milwaukee gained 110 freshmen (3.5%) in this fall's preliminary headcount, but overall, was down 649 students (2.6%). UW-Madison continued its pattern of modest gains in overall (1.0%) and freshmen (2.8%) enrollments.

A 3.5% drop in enrollment at UWM would mean a loss of more than $6 million in tuition revenue. Nearly a third of revenues for UWM come from tuition and fees. State funding makes up roughly 15% of revenues at UW campuses.
Preliminary numbers show significant losses in freshman enrollments on several campuses this fall — 206 students (9.3%) at UW-Whitewater and 134 students (8.6%) at UW-Platteville.
It’s especially noteworthy that the drops are happening at the non-Madison campuses, because those campuses have smaller donor bases and fewer research dollars associated with them, and therefore they are more reliant on state aid and tuition than Madison is.

And let’s not forget that 2017-18 has $85 million less in tax dollars going to UW operations than it did 10 years ago BEFORE INFLATION, so these institutions are facing a double-whammy with declining enrollment.

Non-debt tax dollars going to UW System
2007-08 $925.7 million
2011-12 $880.0 million
2017-18 $840.4 million

So this situation means there isn't sufficient funding available for these schools to operate as they were, let alone pay a premium to attract talent. You’d never run a business this way, but that’s how WisGOP has run one of the few items in this state into the ground, instead of trying to expand the advantage in talent generation that this state used to have from the UW.

Meanwhile, Madison continues to attract students and maintain its strong reputation, but with righties’ attempts to screw up Bucky, I have to wonder how much longer that will continue. Strong public research institutions like UW-Madison are a threat, because they might reveal truths which would prove inconvenient to the right-wing’s agenda. So to counteract that, there is an active Bradley-Koch effort to slant research, and it's being manifested in an attempt to buy off Madison’s Economics Department.

Bruce Murphy at Urban Milwaukee has a great article on that this week, which describes the goal of the $340,000 that the Koch and Bradley “charities” put in to start the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE).
But economics is a quite different matter, than, say, political science, where liberals surely dominate. One study found that those who take economics courses are actually more likely to be conservative. An analysis of economics professors by found that 60 percent were liberal and 40 percent conservative in their ideology. Another study found econ professors were about twice as likely to vote for Democratic candidates, but I suspect the ratio would have been different as recently as 15 years ago, before the Republican Party began to reject science and other university research. The broader point is there are certainly many economists with a conservative viewpoint whose work could be funded, something the Bradley Foundation has done for decades.

But even conservative professors can’t be counted on to deliver precisely the results demanded by someone like James (Art) Pope, which is where CROWE comes in. It will be run by Professor Noah Williams, who lobbied to get a job from Gov. Scott Walker and worked as an advisor to Walker’s presidential campaign, and then did a laughable “study” finding the manufacturing tax credit created all kinds of jobs even though such employment has been flat in this state and has trailed neighboring states in growth.
Yes, that Noah Williams, whose work has been rightfully derided as cherry-picked trash by myself in this blog, as well as other people who know a lot more than I do. And that fuckhead is now denigrating the reputation of my alma mater as well as the professors that do legitimate work in Madison, which is exactly what the Kochs and Bradleys want.

Murphy rightfully casts a skeptical eye at UW-Madison officials who claim that the donations won’t have anything to do with what is the focus and information that comes out of the Economics Department.
UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone assured the Cap Times that donors to CROWE will not set its research agenda or direct the research conducted there. No indeed. “Decisions about the way resources are allocated rest with the executive committee of the Department of Economics,” she said.

If that turns out to be true, you can bet the Bradley Foundation and Koch Brothers will terminate their funding. They want the kind of research cigarette companies bought for years to “prove” tobacco doesn’t cause cancer. But Williams has already proven he is a Walker toady. And UW officials, after years of seeing their funding targeted by Walker and Republican legislators, no doubt felt they had no choice but to hold their noses and approve this smelly deal. I doubt it’s the last such proposal the Bradley Foundation will offer UW-Madison. The Wisconsin Idea may gradually be replaced by the “golden rule”: he who has the gold rules.
And that's what's one of the most infuriating parts about these right-wing oligarchs trying to mess up the UW System. They know in their heart that their ideas can't stand up to legitimate scrutiny, but instead of dealing with the world as it exists and trying to improve things for society, they're the snowflakes who want to hide from criticism, silence those who call pout their BS, and use the confusion and silence to create their own reality.

You wonder why this state continues to lag behind with this mentality dominating the corporate-directed Board of Regents and the oligarchs' puppets at the Capitol? And I don't want to hear Scott Walker or any Koched-up GOP legislators tweeting out their "GO BADGERS!" BS ahead of tonight's game, because if you really cared about the UW, you'd stop trying to starve and privatize our public universities into mediocrities.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reporting this, and thanks to Bruce Murphy. The observation that these right-wing groups want the kind of research that kept the tobacco industry alive is exactly what we face now in Wisconsin.

    In the 1990s, my job took me to George Mason U. near DC, a state school heavily funded by the Kochs. Richmond-based Philip Morris led the tobacco fight against the government, using many George Mason econ department people for their bought research. They were caught at it, which caused quite a scandal ( Noah Williams would have fit well into that whole scam, and seems the GOP have revived the arrangement now with CROWE and the Tommy Thompson PR flack operation.

    And Art Pope (long a Koch ally, and board member of Americans for Prosperity and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation) was brought over to Bradley from North Carolina to do precisely what he did there: buying control of politics by paying and creating all sorts of institutes and non-profits to promote Kochdom (