Did Wisconsin’s governor try to quietly strip a commitment to public service from the university system’s longstanding mission statement? It depends on whom you ask.
A review of the documents shows that Scott Walker’s administration explicitly directed the people writing his budget proposal to remove the focus on public service and “the search for truth,” and replace them with a commitment to meeting “the state’s workforce needs,” reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That appears to directly contradict Mr. Walker’s statement on Wednesday that the change resulted from a “drafting error.”
The Wisconsin Idea will continue to thrive. The final version of budget will fix drafting error - Mission statement will include WI Idea.
— Governor Walker (@GovWalker) February 4, 2015
But Mr. Walker responded on Thursday by saying he had not signed off on the changes. “It was a matter of confusion,” Mr. Walker told reporters. “To me, in the end, it was a confusion out there. It was a mistake that someone made. Someone assumed one thing when the idea was we weren’t going to add anything more [to the budget], they assumed that that meant we were going to keep a blank, simple mission statement.”
University of Wisconsin System leaders reacted harshly on Wednesday to the removal of the “Wisconsin Idea,” which emphasizes the importance of the system to the wider community.
The Wisconsin Idea is embedded in our DNA. It is so much more than words on a page. We will work to preserve it in all of its forms.
— Ray Cross (@RayWCross) February 4, 2015
The Wisconsin Idea is— and always will be-- central to the mission of this university.
— Becky Blank (@BeckyBlank) February 4, 2015
Meanwhile, a cheeky Tumblr page sprang up on Wednesday, imagining edits Mr. Walker might have made to other historic documents. For instance: