Finally, the UW just might have an actual advocate in the State Assembly. Rep. Kim Hixon, a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater professor was appointed Tuesday to lead the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee. Who’s spot is Hixon taking? Former chair and enemy of intellectuals everywhere, the venerable Steve Nass.
Nass was on a permanent crusade to drive the UW System into obscurity. Nass most recently made headlines during the last budget cycle when Nass, joined by his Republican cohorts in the Assembly, proposed a budget that would require the UW System to make $120 million in cuts. This during a time when universities throughout the UW System were struggling to retain long-serving professors and administrators, who, rightfully so, were looking elsewhere around the country to find a state where their skills would be appreciated.Over his years in the Assembly, Nass has been a critic of the lowest order against the UW. His proposed ‘Student Bill of Rights’ that would have protected students who voiced conservative views, was inspired by a David Horowitz, king of college-haters. His Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR) was roundly criticized by a wide-range of groups, both conservative, liberal and non-partisan like the American Association of University Professionals, the American Historical Association, the American Library Association, and the American Federation of Teachers, among others, as infringing on academic freedom and nearly impossible to enforce. The ABOR even included protections for students at state universities who would claim discrimination when tested on evolution.
Nass even went so far as to attempt to make UW faculty adhere to a code of conduct that prohibited making ‘anti-American’ statements. Joe McCarthy anyone? And Nass’s continued drumbeat against the ‘liberal university system?’ Just more of the same sort of nonsense that conservatives continue to push that somehow being educated is threatening or an undesirable characteristic. First in your class at Harvard Law? Elitist. Aloof. Even ‘un-American.’ A President who can’t speak in complete coherent sentences who barely graduated between fraternizing and partying? A ‘hero.’
Good riddance. Here’s hoping that under new leadership, the Assembly will stop these outrageous attacks, both verbal and fiscal, against one of this state’s best institutions.