Former governor and current UW System president Tommy Thompson spoke at a UW-Whitewater Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday. Thompson addressed a campus that confronts statewide funding reductions, a tuition freeze, repeated administrative scandals and failures over the last decade, a decline in the conventional student-age demographic, and competitive pressures from other universities.
For all these problems, one reads that Thompson offered a cheery suggestion:
Thompson said bad news about the university can hurt enrollment. He said he wants employees to share the good news coming out of UW-W.
Men and women of the university, your problems are solved — you can all sleep well tonight.
Thompson’s (more than) a day late and a dollar short: the last decade at UW-Whitewater has been riddled with grandiose press releases in place of sound policy. More precisely, grandiose press releases have been a significant part of policy.
Whitewater’s tried Thompson’s suggestion for years, and yet… here we are.
Boosterism hasn’t worked, isn’t working, and won’t work.
The university cannot talk its way out of its problems.
If there was one thing to pick to make things better here, what would it be?
It’s not one thing that troubles the university – it’s a few: some of local origin, some statewide, some Midwestern. Whitewater is likely to reach a new equilibrium, so to speak, but it will require a few years and come with disappointments along the way. The university will (obviously and fortunately) go on, but going on isn’t thriving.