I have heard it said, “Why should we give more money to the university? They just sit in their ivory tower and don’t even know about the rest of us.”
I would like to differ with you. I would like to say there are probably a very few Wisconsin citizens who are not touched in a positive way directly or indirectly by the university every day of their lives.
We are reached by the food we eat, the health care we get, the education available to us, the small businesses we patronize.
The university is not just about professors lecturing to students, however important those lectures and those students are.
It is about reaching out to train and retrain farmers in more and better ways to provide us with more and healthier food, to provide those farmers with ways to make a better living on their farms.
It is about training and then continuing to update and retrain health professionals, health workers in better ways to keep us healthy and to treat us when we aren’t.
It is about providing services to schools and communities for the young people through the arts, through 4-H clubs, through training and retraining teachers in the best methods for teaching and keeping our young people able to compete in the constantly changing world they will live in.
It is about providing courses for people wanting to start businesses and to employ more people in our communities.
It is about providing in each and every county in the state a county extension office to help individuals in innumerable ways to better their lives.
It is about providing Wisconsin Public Radio and Television to show us and help us see worlds and opportunities we have not even thought about.
To speak of taking $300 million dollars from the University System in terms of teaching a few more classes by professors is to demonstrate a complete ignorance of what the university does for the people of the state of Wisconsin.
And not only for us, the citizens, but also for people the world around who benefit from its research and developments in health and agriculture to name a couple areas.
The original charter of the university was clear in its purpose: “by sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth may be found.”
I think the university has stayed true to its purpose, but we the citizens have lost the courage and will to provide it with the necessary tools to do the best it possibly can.
I cannot resist saying I find it extremely ironic that we can find $200 million to give to a professional basketball team, but must take $300 million from an entity that serves everyone in the state.
I love the state of Wisconsin and its university, but I cannot understand those who want to tear down the very institutions that make it great.