Autonomy allows Madison campus to competeFreshwaters are Wisconsin’s crown jewel. Lakes and rivers of our forests and farmlands provide natural beauty, fisheries, water sports and other benefits. Bordered by two Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, and with thousands of inland lakes and streams, Wisconsin is truly a place where land, people and water meet.
By: By Steve Carpenter, Superior Telegram
Freshwaters are Wisconsin’s crown jewel. Lakes and rivers of our forests and farmlands provide natural beauty, fisheries, water sports and other benefits. Bordered by two Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, and with thousands of inland lakes and streams, Wisconsin is truly a place where land, people and water meet.
The quality of our freshwater resources is maintained by the work of private and public-sector organizations informed by sound science. Lake associations, fishing clubs, landowners and other private groups, along with local governments, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and federal agencies, interact to determine the status and future of our freshwaters.
The scientific basis for freshwater management comes from university, WDNR and federal agency research.
For more than 125 years, freshwater researchers at UW-Madison have contributed to the management of our lakes and rivers in the tradition of the Wisconsin Idea. Current examples include advances to improve water quality, control phosphorus pollution, prevent harmful invaders, restore fish habitat, manage fisheries, and make Wisconsin’s lands and waters more resilient to climate change. Examples are found on UW-Madison web pages for the Center for Limnology, Sea Grant Institute, Water Resources Institute, Water Science and Engineering Laboratory and many other departments and organizations on campus.
Wisconsin residents may be surprised to learn that almost all of this work is funded by grants.
While some state dollars at UW-Madison are available for state-federal matching requirements, most research is supported by competing successfully for grants. These grants pay for research to improve Wisconsin’s waters and to train the next generation of freshwater specialists.
Globally, we vie for the brightest students, researchers and faculty to come to Madison and work on issues important to Wisconsin and the world.
The global reach of UW-Madison’s freshwater programs serves us well, but it is jeopardized by outmoded rules that impede our ability to compete. With a grant portfolio of roughly $1 billion per year, UW-Madison needs increased flexibility to meet the expectations of funders. To contend successfully for grants and talent, we must adapt to a changing world in which every established and emerging economy wants a world-class university.
The New Badger Partnership, as outlined in the proposed state budget, gives UW-Madison the flexibility to remain one of the world’s few great universities.
The purpose of the New Badger Partnership for UW-Madison is to provide the needed reform. Without reform, which offer the university public authority status, the out-of-state funding and the bright minds on which we depend could flow to other institutions that are better able to foster innovation and progress.
Implementation of the Wisconsin Idea at UW-Madison derives from the ability of our researchers to attract both money and people to tackle the challenges facing our state. Our ongoing success depends directly on the reforms in the New Badger Partnership. By adopting these reforms, we will improve UW-Madison’s capacity for cutting-edge research. We need 21st century creativity, not rigid adherence to the status quo, to advance the Wisconsin Idea into the future.
Steve Carpenter is the director of the Center for Limnology at UW-Madison, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the 2011 Laureate of the Stockholm Water Prize.