UW regents meet after DEI rollback deal with lawmakers falls through

The head of the Universities of Wisconsin system declined to reveal what the school’s regents discussed in a closed meeting Tuesday, after the collapse of a contentious deal with Republican lawmakers that would have required campuses to slash diversity positions and scrap an affirmative action program at UW-Madison in exchange for employee raises and funding for construction projects.

The regents met in a closed video conference Tuesday morning to “deliberate and negotiate funding proposals and matters,” according to the agenda. Universities of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman declined to comment on what was said, repeatedly stating in a brief interview with reporters that the meeting was closed.

TOP WI REPUBLICAN DECLARES END TO FINANCIAL NEGOTIATIONS WITH STATE UNIVERSITY

The meeting came three days after the regents voted to reject a funding proposal from Assembly Republican Speaker Robin Vos.

Wisconsin Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos speaks during a news conference on Sept. 18, 2023, at American Family Field in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, file)

The speaker had offered to release funding for a 6% university employee raise over the next two years as well as funding for construction projects, including $200 million for a new UW-Madison engineering building.

To get the money, the universities would have had to freeze hiring for diversity positions through the end of 2026, shift at least 43 current diversity positions to focus on “student success” and eliminate statements supporting diversity on student applications. The system also would have had to drop an affirmative action faculty hiring program at UW-Madison and create a position focused on conservative thought.

The regents rejected the deal on a 9-8 vote after Democrats likened it to selling out students and faculty.

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The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the raises in the state budget but Vos has blocked the funding as he works to reduce diversity positions. He contends such positions only lead to division.

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