One of the items included in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed 2017 – 2019 budget is a slush fund for the University of Wisconsin. I believe the amount is $42 million and in order to get a slice, each campus needs to meet a set of criteria. Some of these criteria include x% of incoming freshman graduating in 4 years, x% of incoming freshman graduate, x% of graduates get a job in their major field, and stuff like that.

Now we have Governor Scott Walker. I am not going to rehash the stories and rumors around his time at Marquette University…but it is a fact that he left before graduating. Now of course Marquette is a private school so none of this applies, but if we were using his criteria for his experience at Marquette…he’d be a black mark on their metrics.

Now these criteria are ridiculous for a lot of reasons. One is his example. He left before he graduated. Students do it all of the time…and the university has little to no control over it.

Graduate in four years? It took me 5 and a half because I changed my major twice and had to play some catch up. University has little or no control over that. And I appreciated the fact that I could change as I found my real interests differed from my supposed interests.

Graduate in four years? What about students who have to work a serious number of hours to support themselves plus attend school? It is a pretty good chance that those students aren’t completing their course of study in four years.

And find a job in your major field? That might depend more on the economy when students graduate than the courses offered for the degree or the degrees offered by the university. Again some things that are seldom under the control of the university.

It isn’t surprising that Governor Walker doesn’t understand contemporary life at university…because it seems like he didn’t quite grasp it when he was a student. But it isn’t surprising that once more he is setting forth criteria to measure results that aren’t controllable by the institution being measured.

Wisconsin needs to step back, stand up, and support the mission of the University of Wisconsin…with enough money…and enough resources…then get out of the way and let them do their job!

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