Mar 6, 2018

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Surrenders to Scott Walker's Politics of Stupidity

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Greg Summers,
provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs,
declares learning anti-social and non-productive in
a "reimagining" of the Stevens Point curriculum gutting
the humanities and social sciences in a crazed proposal
(UW-Stevens Point press release, March 5, 2018).

Wisconsin-Stevens Point University bureaucrats propose surrender to advancing anti-education forces

Madison, Wisconsin—To the extent Wisconsinites value clean water, critical thinking, empirical analysis, democracy, facts, logic, reason, history, government transparency, examination of society, and a determination to eviscerate the proposition that the "present is a process without an alternative" (Ali), Wisconsin's Lost Decade of 2011-2019 has been a nightmare.

Witness this week the terms of surrender announced by Bernie L. Patterson, Chancellor of University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in a depraved email with a proposal pregnant with allusions to a vague "changing landscape" of higher education in which UW-Stevens Point must not be "left behind" as this institution assumes a "repositioning will help us adapt to a new, more focused identity for UW-Stevens Point in the 21st century."

Time to put on the waders.

What Patterson omits is that Wisconsin Republicans and only Republicans have gutted funding for the University of Wisconsin System as the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents is now almost entirely composed of Scott Walker appointees committed to the destruction of the University of Wisconsin system. Reagan-era cuts to student funding are another culprit left unidentified as 10,000s of young Wisconsinites are faced with less and less choices in life.

If someone thirty years from now is trying to figure out why these changes were being made, there is no clue in the memo and public statements made by Patterson and other University administrators.

Why Patterson and other Stevens Point administrators decided the most prudent course of action is to paint over these obscenities with syrupy gloss is mystifying.

From a UW-Stevens Point, March 5 news release announcing the proposal of administrators:

"Discontinuing the following programs is recommended:"

    American Studies
    Art - Graphic Design will continue as a distinct major
    English - English for teacher certification will continue
    History - Social Science for teacher certification will continue
    Music Literature
    Political Science
    Sociology -- Social Work major will continue

This proposal ultimately will revert UW-Stevens Point to the Normal School it once was. Other UW-System schools will not be too far behind. Will there still be a College of Letters and Science? How are teachers meant to function without History, English, Geography?

This proposed policy at Stevens Point is being considered ultimately because the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is run by bureaucrats defined by tribalism, group-think and political incompetence that would shame a seventh-grader running for student council. Criticism is not well-received and as a protector of higher education in Wisconsin, the Democratic Party is moribund.

Working to Defeat Proposal

Alumni are working to kill this proposal.

"The plan is not yet a done deal. The proposal to discontinue programs must be reviewed by a campus governance committee, then the chancellor and UW System Board of Regents. Perhaps some feedback to decision-makers at the school is warranted. Provost Summers can be reached by email at or by phone at (715) 346-4686​," notes Justin Weinberg in Daily Nous.

What does UW-Stevens Point offer students?

In a 2016 Summer reunion at Stevens Point honoring David R. Wrone, professor emeritus of history at UW-Stevens Point, some 30 former students gathered to hail Wrone and his dedication to critical thinking and the value of disputation in the class room.

The gathering was attended by notable Wisconsinites including peace and social justice activists, Al Jenkins and Jackie Captain.

From notes by Jackie Captain on reflections of a liberal education at the Wrone event:

By Jackie Captain

I was part of the generation that was fortunate enough to have two layers of influence from Doctor Wrone. At Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids, we had Fred Dahm, Fred Ginocchio, and Jim Kellerman as teachers and thus were exposed early to humanism, pacifism, and righteous outrage at injustice.

Their influence informed the way I viewed the world and the way I interacted with it; questioning as akin to breathing, breathing meaning activism.

With this background, I strongly believe that the purpose of a classical liberal arts education is to prepare a student to be a good citizen; a well-rounded individual who takes an active part in civic life, with an obligation to stand up for justice and recognize the humanity innate in every person.

Under Dr. Wrone, we read Plato’s Republic and Harold Weisberg’s Whitewash; we invited Sidney Lens, Sam Day, Michael Harrington, Erwin Knoll, Harold Weisberg, and others to meet with our colloquia; we created the Symposia on Survival (SOS) and through a grassroots movement helped to stop the building of a nuclear power plant in Rudolph, Wisconsin.

In Dr. Wrone’s classes, we learned about the critical thinkers of the past and extrapolated their integrity to shape our future. We learned that we couldn’t stand complacent in the face of injustice or inequalities. We learned that it was our moral duty to stand up for the downtrodden and speak truth to power in any way we could. What we learned at the knee of Dr. Wrone was the basis for how we react to every event in our lives.

This is why I when I moved to Madison for graduate school, I was active in the divestiture and anti-apartheid movement; stood up for the Sandinistas, the nuns in El Salvador; worked to try to stop forced registration for the draft; protested the first Gulf war; protested the second Gulf War; worked for Tammy Baldwin, Mark Pocan, Russ Feingold, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders. 

This is why I experience moral outrage at the events that were first highlighted in Ferguson (and that now are nearly a daily occurrence throughout the United Sates) and support the Black Lives Matter movement.

It isn’t necessary a carefree life but it is one guided by morality and an intense sense of what is right and wrong. It is not a life filled with cynicism but one guided by skepticism and critical thought. It is a life lived with curiosity and an optimism that a single person can change the world for the better.

What Dr. Wrone left us with was a classical liberal arts education at its finest and that has made all the difference.
Liberal arts, activism, humanity, injustice, racism. To the extent we ignore living and settle into complacency, fascist movements are forever busy, working to take over.

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