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Carter, Hilda R.; Jenswold, John R. / The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire: a history, 1916-1976
(1976)

Chapter X: The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire: a radical revision,   pp. 127-148 PDF (13.1 MB)


Page 127

CHAPTER X 
THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-EAU CLAIRE: A RADICAL REVISION 
Governor Lucey's Call for Merger of 
Two University Systems 
As the dynamic decade of growth and protest 
waned, Wisconsin educators looked forward to a 
period of adjustment. Economic inflation and the 
increased prestige of the state's vocational-technical 
schools promised a leveling-off of enrollment in the 
University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State 
Universities systems. In the drive to keep up with 
the demand in the 1960s, the University of Wis- 
consin had become a system in itself - with new 
campuses at Green Bay and Kenosha supplementing 
the venerated Madison institution and the Milwau- 
kee university, the state's only truly urban campus. 
The emergent University of Wisconsin system was 
largely the work of Fred Harvey Harrington, presi- 
dent of the University from 1962. Increasingly em- 
battled as the '60s unfolded, President Harrington's 
administration suffered the traumatic experience of 
the bombing of the Army Mathematics Research 
Center in Madison in late August of 1970. On Octo- 
ber 1, 1970, Dr. Harrington announced his retire- 
ment. The man chosen to replace him was Dr. John 
C. Weaver, president of the University of Missouri. 
Also in the fall of 1970 the Democratic Party in 
Wisconsin managed to wrest the chief executive 
office from the entrenched Republicans. A general 
dissatisfaction with state taxation and spending 
underlay Lucey's support; the Democrats' call for 
austerity and tax cuts appealed to many Wiscon- 
sinites in a time of inflation. 
In his budget message of February 25, 1971, 
Governor Patrick J. Lucey attacked the costs of 
higher education: 
We can no longer afford to support an 
archaic organization of higher education which 
is a product of historic accident and ignores 
the converging social missions of the two sys- 
tems that have been developing over recent 
decades. 
The governor's call for merger was not a suggestion, 
it was an order, and Patrick Lucey was prepared to 
fight for his plan: 
I have eliminated from the executive budget 
the Coordinating Council for Higher Education 
and the central administrative costs of the 
State Universities and the University of Wis- 
consin.' 
The dean of reporters of state affairs, John Wyn- 
gaard, early in March commented that, though 
Governor Lucey was a consummate political crafts- 
man, "the orthodox assessment of the outlook will 
be that he cannot achieve the union of the proud 
University of Wisconsin and its branches and the 
separate state university system, which is an un- 
related entity, as he put it so accurately, only 
through historical accident." The governor in his 
message emphasized the $15 million cost of the 
"troika administration" represented by the two sys- 
tems and the CCHE, and assured taxpayers and 
legislators that a union of the systems and the 
elimination of CCHE would save $4 million. He 
stipulated that Dr. John Weaver should be presi- 
dent of the combined university systems, and he 
"held out the juicy carrot of security for the most 
important of the Republican members of the govern- 
ing board." Finally, it was obvious that tens of 
thousands of graduates of the state universities 
would be eligible for University of Wisconsin 
degrees .2 
Who Killed CCHE? 
In the membership of the Coordinating Com- 
mittee for Higher Education, as changed by the 
1965 legislature, were nine citizens appointed by 
the governor, one regent and the president of the 
board of the University of Wisconsin and one regent 
and the president of the board of the Wisconsin 
State Universities, two representatives from the 
State Board of Vocational, Technical and Adult 
Education, the state superintendent of public in- 
struction, and one representative of the County 
Teachers Colleges. At the same time that non- 
institutional representatives were thus given a 
majority on the board, the CCHE acquired its 
own staff, with Angus B. Rothwell, formerly state 
superintendent of public instruction, taking the post 
of executive director. 
Until CCHE received its own staff and budget, 
the agency's work was done by administrators 
drawn from the University of Wisconsin and Wis- 
consin State Universities on a part-time basis, with 
their salaries being paid by the parent institution. 
"They didn't give the Coordinating Committee any 
money, and without funds it didn't wield much 
power," Eugene McPhee recalled. "At one time, 
President Kleinpell of River Falls spent two to 
three days a week as co-director with Ira Baldwin, 
vice president of the University of Wisconsin. The 
board met only about four times a year, and it was 
a planning agency entirely. But you can plan just 
so long, and then you have to implement. The best 


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