Evers wants in­de­pen­dent UW Board of Re­gents

Walker filled 2 spots, 1 open a year, this week

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Milwaukee Wisconsin - Karen Her­zog

LA CROSSE - A mem­ber of the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin Sys­tem Board of Re­gents who of­ten voted alone or in the mi­nor­ity on con­tro­ver­sial po­lit­i­cal is­sues ar­rived at Thurs­day’s meet­ing on the UW-La Crosse cam­pus as the guy ev­ery­one wanted to em­brace.

“Some­times we have re­spect­fully dis­agreed and there’s noth­ing wrong with that in a democ­racy,” said the re­gent, state schools su­per­in­ten­dent Tony Evers, who last month amassed po­lit­i­cal power as the Demo­crat gov­er­nor-elect.

Evers thanked fel­low re­gents who were ap­pointed by Re­pub­li­can Gov. Scott Walker “for putting up with me” and said he knows what he wants to see in fu­ture re­gents he will ap­point as gov­er­nor. His first two ap­point­ments will re­place cur­rent re­gent Pres­i­dent John Behling and past pres­i­dent Regina Mill­ner in May.

“They will not be peo­ple who feel they are act­ing as an em­ployee of mine,” said Evers, who has served as an ex of­fi­cio mem­ber of the re­gents for the past 9.5 years as su­per­in­ten­dent of schools.

Evers al­luded to crit­i­cism in re­cent years that the UW Sys­tem’s Board of Re­gents is in lock step with Walker, who ap­pointed 16 of the cur­rent 18 board mem­bers.

The other two mem­bers are ex-of­fi­cio. In ad­di­tion to the state schools su­per­in­ten­dent, a mem­ber of the Wis­con­sin Tech­ni­cal Col­lege Sys­tem board also serves on the UW Board of Re­gents.

Evers said he thinks it’s im­por­tant that re­gents be in­de­pen­dent of the gov­er­nor who ap­pointed them and en­cour­aged the board to “stay true to not only the teach­ing and learn­ing but the

re­search that goes along with it.”

The GOP agenda for UW Sys­tem has both shaken ten­ure job pro­jec­tions for fac­ulty and shared gov­er­nance for cam­pus de­ci­sion-mak­ing in ar­eas such as cur­ricu­lum.

Evers in 2016 op­posed a GOP-ap­proved bud­get plan that wa­tered down ten­ure job pro­tec­tions for UW fac­ulty. He in­tro­duced three amend­ments to the Board of Re­gents that were sup­ported by pro­fes­sors and would have given fac­ulty stronger pro­tec­tions.

None of the amend­ments passed.

In Au­gust, Evers was the only re­gent who voted against the UW Sys­tem’s $6.3 bil­lion op­er­at­ing bud­get for the fis­cal year that starts in July be­cause of what he called “a strate­gic er­ror.”

Evers said the $107.5 mil­lion re­quested from state tax­payer dol­lars for UW op­er­at­ing ex­penses should have been $70 mil­lion higher be­cause of po­ten­tial rev­enue loss from an on­go­ing tu­ition freeze for un­der­grad res­i­dents that be­gan in fall 2013.

Evers told re­porters at the re­gents meet­ing Thurs­day that he be­lieves the state should re­place with state fund­ing any money cam­puses lose through a tu­ition freeze. Res­i­den­tial un­der­grad­u­ate tu­ition has been frozen for the past six years.

This week’s two-day meet­ing at UW-La Crosse will be Evers’ fi­nal re­gents meet­ing.

He will be re­placed on the board by his suc­ces­sor at DPI.

Evers was pre-empted from fill­ing two spots open un­til this week be­cause Walker acted quickly to make his own re­gent ap­point­ments be­fore leav­ing of­fice in Jan­uary.

The state Se­nate con­firmed both ap­point­ments Tues­day, in­clud­ing high-pow­ered at­tor­ney Scott Beightol, who works for the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, which helped Republi- cans re­draw leg­isla­tive bound­aries in 2011.

Democrats al­lege the re­drawn bound­aries are un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Beightol will serve un­til May 2023. He re­places Re­pub­li­can U.S. Rep.elect Bryan Steil, who re­signed last week to fo­cus on his first term in Congress in the district now rep­re­sented by Paul Ryan.

Beightol’s law prac­tice fo­cus is em­ploy­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion and la­bor ar­bi­tra­tion.

The other new Walker-ap­pointed re­gent is Tor­rey Tiede­man, who will be the non­tra­di­tional stu­dent re­gent un­til May 2020. Tiede­man re­places Lisa Erick­son, who grad­u­ated and re­signed last De­cem­ber.

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