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Walker Gives Mixed Messages On ‘Wisconsin Idea’ Changes

Cites 'Drafting Error' After Earlier Comments On Revised UW Mission Statement

Phil Roeder (CC-BY)

Gov. Scott Walker backed away Wednesday from a plan in his budget that would have removed the “Wisconsin Idea” from the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement.

Walker’s budget deleted the goal of extending knowledge beyond the boundaries of UW campuses. It also deleted the words, “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”

The governor also added a new goal to the mission: “to meet the state’s workforce needs.” Walker addressed the issue Wednesday afternoon in De Pere during an interview recorded by an affiliate of the Wisconsin Radio Network.

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“Learning is important, but ultimately it’s most important to get the chance, to get the education they need to succeed in the workforce and in life,” Walker said.

But the change set off a media firestorm, and a few hours after Walker spoke, his office issued a statement saying that the final version of the budget would include the Wisconsin Idea. Walker’s office blamed the initial changes change on a “drafting error.”