Steve Nass, the outlaw chairman of an Assembly committee that is designed to destroy the University of Wisconsin System, needs to go back to school. The Whitewater Republican, not content to embarrass his party, continues to shame his district and the state.
Nass' premise is simple. He considers certain programs "too far to the left," or he disagrees with them philosophically.
Wisconsin has benefited mightily and the University of Wisconsin has contributed to its economy by the exploits of its faculty. We need go no further than the work of Professor Karl Paul Link or these activities which personify the Wisconsin Idea:
As you look at this list, recall two things:
- While at some later date, the private sector may have solved these problems, it was a public institution that relishes academic freedom that did the work with a combination of private and pubic money through the dedication of a free and independent faculty that entertained the most unpopular ideas.
- While not all of us would have supported each and every program, that as a whole, this body of work has been of great benefit to our state and society.
1886 Professor Richard Ely publishes the nation’s first book on labor relations, presaging a period of dramatic reform in government’s role in the workplace.
- 1888 The state Legislature provides funding for the university to begin offering summer institutes for schoolteachers.
- 1889 Civil engineering professor C.D. Marx travels to Racine to offer mechanics training to factory workers, the first of a series of mechanics institutes where faculty brought their expertise directly to state workplaces.
- 1890 Professor Stephen Babcock devises a method to test the butterfat content of milk, allowing merchants to pay farmers based on butterfat rather than weight and effectively ending the days of watered-down milk.
1895 UW bacteriologists discover new techniques for canning vegetables that solve a persistent problem for the state’s canning industry — exploding cans.
1899 Building on the success of summer institutes for farmers and teachers, the university establishes its first official summer session, making courses available to practicing professionals and non-traditional students.
- 1901 Robert M. La Follette becomes the first UW alumnus to be elected governor of Wisconsin. A former roommate of Charles Van Hise, he articulates a progressive view of politics that sweeps Wisconsin and the nation, leading to legislative reforms in labor laws, social security and education. In his first address to the Legislature, La Follette says: “The State will not have fulfilled its duty to the University nor the University fulfilled its mission to the people until adequate means have been furnished to every young man and woman to acquire an education at home in every department of learning.”
- 1907 The university creates an extension division to carry the university’s educational resources to citizens around the state.
1908 Extension programs in public health are conducted for school children and adults throughout the state, focusing on nutrition, sanitation, safety, prenatal health, and the prevention and control of communicable diseases.
- 1911 The state Legislature authorizes the hiring of county agricultural agents, who are employed jointly by the UW and local governments to help advance local agriculture, preceding agencies funded by the federal Smith-Lever Act by three years.
- 1917 University faculty members begin making regular radio broadcasts from a campus transmitter, operating under the call sign 9XM. Their efforts become the foundation for WHA, the oldest educational radio station in the country.
- 1921 The university begins offering tests for bovine tuberculosis, helping control the spread of the disease among state dairy herds.
1925 Biochemist Harry Steenbock forms the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation to commercialize his techniques for enriching food with vitamin D. The nation’s oldest university-based intellectual property agency, UW helps move scholarly inventions into the public domain and supports further research by routing licensing fees back to the lab.
- 1930s University research yields new hybrids of sweet corn that adapt well to Wisconsin’s low temperatures and shorter growing season, leading the state’s sweet corn crop to quintuple from 1930 to 1950.
- 1931 WHA Radio’s “School of the Air” broadcasts lessons in civics, music, art, nature and health, and within a decade, nearly 300,000 elementary and high school students are tuned in as regular listeners.
- 1933 Seeking to explain why cows were dying after eating spoiled sweet clover, biochemist Karl Paul Link discovered a chemical in the plant that he synthesized as the blood thinner dicumarol, which would become an essential anticoagulant for treating blood clots. Link made more than 100 variants of dicumarol, the most potent of which is the basis for Warfarin, a deadly poison used to control rats.
- 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, a law that was significantly drafted by UW economist Edwin Witte and drew on the ideas of UW economists John Commons, Arthur Altmeyer and others.
- '1940 UW horticulturists create North America’s first potato-seed farm to supply farmers with high-quality, disease-free seed potatoes. Some of the nation’s hardiest potato varieties, such as Superior and Snowden, were developed there.
- 1949 Professor Aldo Leopold publishes A Sand County Almanac, a timeless bestseller that has become the wellspring for modern efforts to preserve the environment.
- 1963 Engineering professor John Bollinger designs a robotic welding device that could control motion in five directions, helping Milwaukee’s A.O. Smith Company automate its welding process and revolutionize the manufacturing of automobile frames.
- 1963 The UW schools of Education and Library and Information Studies create the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, which houses and analyzes contemporary and historical children’s literature and helps state libraries identify the best books for young minds.
- 1968 The world’s first successful sibling-to-sibling bone-marrow transplants are performed simultaneously at the UW and the University of Minnesota. Based on a compatibility test devised by Fritz Bach, a UW professor of medical genetics and medicine, bone-marrow transplants have since become a mainstay in the treatment of diseases and disorders such as leukemia.
- 1974 The UW Law School establishes the Center for Public Representation, which provides free legal assistance to health-care consumers and elderly, disabled and low-income people.
- 1985 Warzyn Engineering becomes the first company housed at the University Research Park, created to help businesses take university research advances into the marketplace.
- 1987 UW surgeon Folkert Belzer and biochemist James Southard create the Wisconsin solution, a fluid for preserving organs for transplant surgery that dramatically increases the time an organ can survive outside the body. Used by hospitals throughout the world, the solution saves lives by providing time to make better matches between a donated organ and a patient, and to transport organs over greater distances.
- 1989 The Wisconsin Center for Education Research aids in the development of new national standards for teaching math, which replace problems like runaway trains hurtling toward each other at different speeds with everyday situations, to be solved by student teams.