Thursday, the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee allocated $3 million in state funds in an unprecedented move to use taxpayer money to fund a partisan, conservative think tank at UW-Madison called the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership.
Speaker Robin Vos stated in media accounts that this Center was designed to counter "left-leaning" research organizations and "liberal thinking" on campus.
A board of exclusively conservative Republican political appointees — without a single Democrat — would control the think tank.
According to press accounts, UW political science professor and former Thompson staffer, Ryan Owens, who has received funding from the conservative Bradley Foundation, is vying to lead the center. A significant portion, $500,000, must be used to pay speakers for engagements at other UW campuses.
UW-Madison currently has its own public policy school, the world-renowned Lafollette School of Public Affairs, which receives $600,000 of public funds annually. The Tommy G. Thompson Center will receive $1.5 million annually over the next two years, with more to come from the private sector.
Many seem to be up in arms about the think tank...
Think tanks housed within universities are quite common, the most popular being the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Here is an Inside Higher Ed article on the challenges that university-affiliated think tanks have been facing.