Provost: UW iSchool to remain independent

UW Provost Mary Lidstrom announced in a letter to the entire iSchool community that the iSchool will remain an independent unit on the UW Campus, citing the iSchool's ability to continue to provide the highest levels of student access and program quality in spite of an extremely difficult economic climate in the state and on the UW campus.

The text of the letter, which iSchool Dean and Professor Harry Bruce received today:


To all members of the Information School:

In February, in response to requests from several legislators, Interim President Phyllis Wise outlined some of the reductions UW might need to take if we faced a large cut in our state funding.Some very concrete actions were mentioned, including the consolidation of the Information School with another unit on campus. This was a jarring option for many, and one that we did not relish proposing. As President Wise noted in her March 12 Town Hall meeting, none of us is happy about the sharp reduction in state support for the University.

We suggested consolidation - given the very substantial budget cuts under consideration at that time - primarily because we worried about the sustainability of this program. We had deep concerns that your school, in an effort to maintain independent status, might jeopardize your own programs by burdening students with heavy tuition increases and severely increasing the workload for faculty and staff. We considered that consolidation might be the best way to maintain access for students to high-quality programs. Those two goals - student access and preservation of quality - were paramount in our decision to consider consolidation.

In the past two months, we have followed the university-wide budget review process we created in consultation with faculty and students. Your leadership, along with your faculty, students, alumni and others, presented spirited defenses on behalf of your programs. Most importantly, your leaders have presented a financial plan that promises continued academic success in a fiscally responsible way. While we continue to worry about long-term fiscal sustainability, we want to give the school every chance to succeed on your own. Consequently, the iSchool will remain an independent entity.

I know that this has been a very challenging time for the iSchool, and I know that there is much work still ahead. I am delighted by the very strong advocacy and commitment manifested by the supporters of the school, and most of all, by the assurances that our two chief goals - student access and the preservation of quality - can be maintained in a fiscally responsible way within the current organizational structure. These are very challenging times in higher education, and we naturally find ourselves questioning much of what we do. Many thanks to the iSchool for your responsiveness, optimism, and perseverance.


Mary Lidstrom
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President