In the last week, we have had developments that reiterated the UW System continues to decline and be deformed in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, this time involving UW-Stevens Point.
It started when it was revealed that UWSP was facing a $4.5 million structural deficit over the next 2 years.
Why had this happened? A lack of money coming in, partly due to fewer students paying tuition, and a lack of funding from the GOP-run State government.
"Our graduation rate has been increasibg, and that's a very good thing for students, but it means that our overall enrollment has been,going down, because we're not able to recruit students to keep pace with the rising graduation rate," [UWSP provost Greg] Summers said. "Many of out financial challenges actually come from our academic success of graduating students at a faster rate."And so on Monday, UWSP revealed their solution.
Years of state budget cuts and tuition freezes have compounded the university's financial problems, Summers said.
"We've had years of shifting of public funding away from universities and the resulting need to look more at tuition dollars to supplement budgets. Given the tuition freeze that we've been in for five years now, that's put a pinch on possible revenues," Summers said. "In the 1970s the university received about 50 percent of our budget from state sources. Today that number is down to about 13 percent."
...[UW-Stevens Point] proposes adding or expanding 16 programs in areas with high-demand career paths as a way to maintain and increase enrollment.The programs that are gaining? Engineering, Business majors, Computer Info Systems, and Environmental-related studies (a field UWSP has excelled in and attracted many students for).
To fund this future investment, resources would be shifted from programs with lower enrollment, primarily in the traditional humanities and social sciences. Although some majors are proposed to be eliminated, courses would continue to be taught in these fields, and minors or certificates will be offered.
The majors getting discontinued? Almost all are in the Humanities, including American Studies, English, Geography, History, Political Science, Sociology, and Art.
UW Public Affairs and Economics Professor Donald Moynihan has been speaking and writing about several types of UW-related issues as GOP "reforms" have changed the funding, emphasis, and balance of power at these universities. and he gave a series of tweets on the UWSP situation today, along with the bigger picture that it is a part of.
People disrupting the speech of those they disagree with is wrong as a general principle. But a structural weakening of faculty on campus removes one fo the best protections of campus speech. 2/— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) March 6, 2018
The Regents are all entirely Republican appointees (w exception of State Superintendent), all conservative, no higher educational background. Not much diversity of thought or defense of faculty and student rights 4/— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) March 6, 2018
Fair to say there is a lot of anti higher-ed animus motivating these actions: the Assembly Speaker dismissed our research as "the ancient mating habits of whatever." Senate leader: weakened tenure laws would encourage some people on campus to shut up 5/https://t.co/a2nA0VyVgk— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) March 6, 2018
All of these structural changes have been undertaken by government, not students, gradually, but with a clear goal of removing the agency of university actors to criticize state actors. 7/— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) March 6, 2018
Of course, this "restructuring" at UWSP is exactly what the Koch-ALEC stooges want out of higher education these days, where Lord Business and the Magic of Mr. Market decide what types of studies are important, and what types aren't. The concept of a well-rounded education and a learned citizenry does not play in to this equation, as it is viewed as a threat to corporates and their puppet politicians.
The late, great George Carlin summed up this dystopic mentality a long time ago, where corporate America and other oligarchs don't value an educated, thoughtful populace who can see through their BS. And it's gotten worse since then.