In his bid to cut $300 million from the University of Wisconsin’s budget, Scott Walker also attempted to change the mission statement of the university. The mission statement, known as the “Wisconsin Idea” has been a cornerstone of the University since 1904 and defines the entire purpose of receiving an education at UW.
The mission of this system is to develop human resources; to discover and disseminate knowledge; to extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses; and finally, to serve and stimulate society by developing in students heightened intellectual, cultural, and humane sensitivities, scientific, professional, and technological expertise, and a sense of value and purpose. Inherent in this mission are methods of instruction, research, extended education, and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition. Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.
The University of Wisconsin has always taught students that the education they receive is not only for the betterment of the individual, but for the betterment of the state through applying that education into doing the most good for the most people. The Wisconsin Idea was adopted and implemented at UW at a time when progressive ideals were spreading across the nation. It is still the foundation of the university today.
Scott Walker, or someone else working for the governor decided to edit the mission statement of UW, removing every part that related to the Wisconsin Idea. The new revised mission system statement read:
The mission of the system is to develop human resources to meet the state’s workforce needs, to discover and disseminate knowledge, and to develop in students heightened intellectual, cultural, and humane sensitivities, scientific, professional and technological expertise, and a sense of purpose.
University officials were quick to denounce the changes. Ray Cross, president of the University of Wisconsin said that the Wisconsin Idea was written into the DNA of the university. Chancellor Rebecca Blank assured the university that the Wisconsin Idea would always remain a permanent philosophy of UW.
The public reaction was enough for the governor to tweet in the late afternoon that the changes to the missions statement were a “drafting error” and the Wisconsin Idea would remain a part of the University’s mission statement. Whether it was intentional for Scott Walker to remove the progressive philosophy of the university and change it from an institution promoting public service to a job training school was really a drafting error, the final stricken sentence of the statement is a testament to Scott Walker’s time as governor: Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.