University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross is responding to criticism from faculty and students who say he failed to consult them on the plan to merge two-year campuses with four-year universities.
Cross said system leaders had to act quickly to avoid the closure of several campuses, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
Cross said he believes in shared governance but it's not clearly understood what responsibilities fall to the administration and what falls to faculty, staff and students. There needs to be conversations about what shared governance specifically entails, he said.
"I think that there's confusion about who should be involved in what and how. That's understandable," Cross said. "I would argue that shared governance has, in some ways, equated decisions at all levels on all issues, and that's not, in my mind, appropriate."
UW-Stout's Student Senate issued a vote of no confidence last week because of Cross' actions.
"The bold actions President Cross has taken without consultation and comments he has made regarding shared governance partners has been irrevocably ruinous and is completely unacceptable," said Alex Vernon, Stout Student Association president.
The group is seeking Cross' resignation or his recommitment to working with university governance groups.
The executive committee of the UW-Madison Chapter of the American Association of University Professor wrote a letter to Cross expressing concerns over the disregard of shared governance.
Better decisions are made when those impacted are part of the process, said David Vanness, a UW-Madison professor and committee member.
Officials are looking for better ways to engage effectively with faculty, Cross said.