How much does a regent have to pay Doyle?

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I’ve been hearing rumors from people involved in university policy that the board of regents is stacked with major Democratic contributors, especially contributors to Gov. Jim Doyle’s campaigns. I did some research on my own to assess the charge, and I come back with mixed results, which leave me cynical enough to believe the accusations, but not convinced enough to declare Doyle “guilty” beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here are the regents Doyle selected, including the amount they contributed to his campaigns since 2003:

Jeffrey Bartell – $17, 474

Mark Bradley – $20,219

Eileen Keesler–Connolly – $500

Judith Crain – $150

Danae Davis – $2450

Stan Davis – $1,350

John Drew – $0

Tony Evers – $0

Michael J. Falbo – $14,000

Thomas Loftus – $1,100

Charles Pruitt – $2,150

Brent Smith – $7,187

Michael J. Spector – $22,050

David Walsh – $24,250

Like I said, not enough to convict the man. A handful of very big contributors, including three who surpassed the 20 grand mark, a pretty impressive feat. Essentially that means they gave the maximum allowed ($10,000) for his first two campaigns and are probably planning on maxing out their contributions for his next campaign if he runs again. Of the two who gave no money, one is John Drew, a representative for the United Autoworkers, and the other is Tony Evers, the state superintendent, who is not selected by the governor. There are a handful of prominent lobbyists, including David Walsh, who represents communications interests, as well as many other members who have seemingly no experience in education whatsoever. Granted, it’s not just education buffs you need on the board of regents – you also need people with legal, financial and other cultural expertise.

What is extremely disappointing about the board of regents is how few of them come from outside Madison or Milwaukee. Many schools in the UWS system lack representation completely. Six come from the Madison area, seven come from the Milwaukee area, two come from Green Bay and one comes from La Crosse. Since the inception of the Board of Regents over 30 years ago, there has not once been a regent nominated from the Eau Claire area. Luckily one of the student reps on the board this year comes from Eau Claire.

But here’s the sad truth: under the current system, there should probably be even more regents from Madison.

This is relevant in the broader context of higher education in this state. The Board of Regents is an antiquated structure, which does not properly address the needs of the different UW campuses. UW-Madison, by far the largest campus in the system, needs separate governance. This has been proposed before by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, and it needs to be evaluated more seriously. Not only does Madison account for more than a quarter of all students in the system, it also supplies more than 90 percent of all doctoral degrees, and takes in 93 percent of all research funds in the system. UW-Madison is a state school and should remain one, but it is also a nationally renowned research university that can compete with the top public and private universities in the country. It needs to be independent to pursue this competition.

Not only would independence help Madison, but it would benefit all the other UWS campuses, who would then have the opportunity to have a board composed purely of regents with their needs in mind. Eau Claire would finally get some representation!

That’s why I don’t believe the legislation authored by Rep. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire), which seeks to nominate the regents based on seven geographical districts (all must be represented by at least one regent) goes far enough in addressing the inadequacies of the system. If anything, I believe this legislation would be a very bad deal for Madison.

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6 Responses to “How much does a regent have to pay Doyle?”

  1. Erik Paulson Says:

    So, you know that until 1971, Madison and Milwaukee were the “University of Wisconsin”, right? Most of what we now call the “comprehensives” (ie Eau Claire, La Crosse) were the Wisconsin State Universities, with their own system of Governance.

    The past 38 years haven’t been a disaster for the Madison campus. You’re going to need to come up with a stronger argument than “we’re different” for splitting the system up.

  2. The Sconz Says:

    Frankly I think the decision in 71 could have been a mistake. However, things are different now. State funding is down and UW, as a national university, needs to be able to aggressively pursue outside funding – although I don’t think the pressure on the legislature to up funding should stop.

    UW-Madison is a completely different university with completely different needs. It would benefit it to have a separate board that could look after its enormous administration, and hold its chancellor accountable. Perhaps more importantly, I believe that a different system would benefit the other branches even more. It would be good for them to not have a board that is overwhelmed with politics from the Madison campus.

  3. anon Says:

    Just an aside to your post – Governor Doyle didn’t select Tony Evers. The State Superintendent is automatically a Regent by law.

    • The Sconz Says:

      I semi-expected that anon. So him and the two student reps aren’t selected. Who’s the other one who’s not?

      • Anonymous Says:

        Stan Davis by virtue of being the president of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board.

        14 Governor appointees
        2 Students
        2 Members by virtue of holding other positions

  4. How much does a regent have to pay Doyle? « The Sconz | How much does a Says:

    […] the rest here:  How much does a regent have to pay Doyle? « The Sconz Share and […]

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