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Letters: UW president should resign over surplus issue

4:50 PM, Apr. 30, 2013  |  Comments

I am a strong supporter of University of Wisconsin System and its flagship, UW-Madison. However, I am appalled by President Kevin Reilly's handling of the surplus scandal.

It doesn't matter that much of the surplus is restricted grant funds (money that faculty and staff took the entrepreneurial initiative to seek). Or that much of it is designated for future projects to maintain System as one of Wisconsin's strongest economic engines. And it doesn't matter that a structural surplus shows System is being a good, conservative steward of its finances. Appearances matter and it appears that UW is hiding a slush fund.

By so phenomenally bungling this situation, President Reilly managed to accomplish what no one in Wisconsin has in years - bipartisan agreement. Sadly, this bipartisanship comes at the expense of everything the system has worked hard for in recent years: flexibilities to compensate for decreasing state funding, allowing it to compete with higher education peers for the best professors and staff to educate Wisconsin's young people.

Blame lies squarely with President Reilly. This is a public relations nightmare of his making. As the CEO of UW-System, he must take responsibility for his administration's secretive and arrogant response to the audit revelations. Unfortunately, this response is typical of Reilly's tenure as he flounders through a tense relationship with an unfriendly legislature in a tough economy. Reilly was dealt a bad hand, but has done little to help his cause. If UW System is to thrive in our new economy, President Reilly must be replaced.

Molly Smiltneek

Oshkosh

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