Office of Planning and Budgeting

University of Wisconsin Poised to Receive Greater Autonomy?

Current protests in Wisconsin have dominated press coverage of Governor Scott Walker’s proposed 2011-13 state budget this week. Lost in the shuffle may have been news that the proposal contained a provision that would lead to greater autonomy for Wisconsin’s largest public institution of higher education, the University of Wisconsin at Madison. UW Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has requested that the UW System Board of Regents not oppose the move, which she argues would be essential to protecting excellence and access for the state’s flagship campus.

Potential legislation based on the Governor’s proposal is expected to be introduced by Republicans and would be likely to include the following freedoms for UW Madison:

  • Tuition setting authority and freedom to manage all funds
  • Authority to implement institutional budget without System approval
  • Ability to recruit, hire and retain employees outside of the state system
  • New flexibility in purchasing
  • Authority to handle its own building projects

The University has sought such freedoms from the state for years, and the article suggests that the chancellor has been working for over a year to craft the current proposal, which she calls the New Badger Partnership.

For more information about this topic, read our recent OPB brief on institutional autonomy and the varying degrees to which it currently exists at the UW Seattle and our Global Challenge State peers.

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