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Letter to the editor

Food science cut back in Madison

October 31, 2008

Back in 1985, Menomonie legislator Dick Shoemaker single-handedly bumped the UW-River Falls physical education building off the state building commission’s list of approved projects and replaced it with a UW-Stout project.

Today, UW-Stout has its facility while UWRF has an unpaved parking lot adjacent to the Robert P. Knowles Building, named for the man who, as regent and state senator, was the last elected official truly committed to the well-being of this University in the legislature.

If he were still alive, Republican Knowles would be dismayed at the benign neglect of this, his alma mater, by the party loyalists who have succeeding him. For example, this newspaper reported a few weeks ago that the food science and technology program faces possible elimination from the college curriculum.

Since 1992, the faculty has dwindled from five professors to two because budget cuts in Madison made it impossible to hire replacements for the three who retired or took other positions. National accreditation has been lost and the pro- gram’s demise appears to be likely.

UWRF’s voices in Madison today are a rural River Falls dairy farmer and a Hudson businesswoman who grew up on a St. Croix County farm. Isn’t it ironic that they’re marching along to the drum- beat of “do more with less,” helping drive an agricultural program on this campus right into the ground?

Food science’s death by 1,000 little cuts isn’t solely the faults of Kitty Rhoades and Sheila Harsdorf.

Nevertheless, they were certainly complicit, providing no advocacy for UWRF, and they may even have some specks of blood on their hands. How could they not? Since 1992, the River Falls area assembly seat has been held exclusively by Republicans. On the Senate side, Republicans have held sway 12 out of the 16 years in question. Even College Republicans should be able to connect those dots, which reveal a 16-year downhill slope headed straight toward oblivion for food science majors.

At a political forum back in the early 70s, Bob Knowles was asked, “Why are there so many stupid state senators?” He replied, “Well, Wisconsin has quite a few stupid people, and those folks deserve representation too.”

Let’s hope Knowles had it mostly wrong, especially among the staff and students at UWRF, and that Abe Lincoln had it mostly right when he said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

Harold Tiffany
River Falls