University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank addressed the UW System Board of Regents yesterday, first touting the accomplishments of the university, but ultimately sharing her fear that proposed budget cuts could seriously harm the institution.
UW-Madison faces a $91 million budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year:
- $23 million continuing cut from 2013
- $57 million proposed cut (UW-Madison’s historic share of UW System total)
- $3.5 million loss due to elimination of state funding for the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative
- $2.5 million loss due to the elimination of municipal service payments by the state
- $5 million set aside for faculty retention
The chancellor likened the cut to 650 faculty positions or 1,083 staff positions. That amount would also fund five of the university’s smaller colleges — Business, Law, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Veterinary Medicine.
Blank told regents that raising tuition at the professional schools and out-of-state students could bring in $18.5 million per year. Raising the cap on out-of-state students from 27.5 percent to 30 percent would add almost $19 million a year. Even with these additional revenue streams, less than half of the anticipated funding gap would be filled, resulting in major cuts to faculty and staff as well as student support services.
Blank is especially concerned that faculty at UW-Madison will be an easy target for recruitment by other top universities. Faculty salaries lag behind peers, and the median salary offer by a competitor last year was 42% higher than the UW-Madison salary. The chancellor told the regents the current budget situation has caused the university to lose three potential hires in the past week, including one nationally known researcher.
Blank closed her remarks with the following:
“Never has higher education been more important to the young people around the state. These cuts are too large. They are too large for the state. They are too large for the university.”
The University of Wisconsin-Madison will host the UW System Board of Regents today and tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, February 4 and 5. All meetings will take place in Varsity Hall in Union South, 1308 West Dayton Street. Livestream coverage of the meeting is available here.
The regents meet in committee Thursday morning, and the full board meets Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank will address the regents at 1:15 pm, followed by a board discussion of the 2015-17 biennial budget proposal.
The Education Committee will discuss sabbatical guidelines for 2016-18 and hear a report from UW-Madison Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf on educational updates. On Friday, the committee, along with all regents, will discuss the engineering needs in the state, including a proposal to create new engineering programs in northwestern Wisconsin.
The Business and Finance Committee will hear the 2014 Finance Report, the 2014 Annual Trust Funds Report, and the Information Technology Report.
The Capital Planning and Budget Committee will hear presentations from UW-Madison and UW-Parkside on their respective campus master plans.
The Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee will hear updates on UW-Madison’s research enterprise and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation partnership.
On Friday, the regents will hear several reports, including UW-Madison’s NCAA Division I Athletics Report. UW-Madison professor Erik Brodt will receive a 2015 Board of Regents Diversity Award.
AB 21, Governor Scott Walker’s 2015-17 biennial budget proposal, contains language that seems to eliminate the Wisconsin Idea from state statutes (Section IIII below):
Full changes to Chapter 36 are here:
PROFS is deeply concerned about these changes and their potentially devastating side effects and will strongly advocate for restoring UW’s statutory commitment to the Wisconsin Idea.
ETA: A spokesperson for Governor Scott Walker said this afternoon the change in UW System’s statutory mission statement was a drafting error.
Governor Scott Walker’s proposed $300 million budget cut to UW System was a featured topic on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition today.
Click the link below to play. A transcript of the story is here.
Governor Scott Walker will introduce his 2015-17 biennial budget at 7 pm tonight. WisconsinEye, Wisconsin Public Radio, and Wisconsin Public Television will stream audio and video of the address.
The governor announced last week his budget will include a record $300 million cut to UW System and $1.3 billion in borrowing for transportation, but additional details are scant.
The Faculty Senate voted unanimously yesterday to support a resolution opposed to the funding cuts. A position on possible management flexibilities was not taken as those details will not be released until tonight.
PROFS will lobby hard in the coming weeks to reduce the size of the cut to UW System. The state faces a projected $2.2 billion shortfall in the biennial budget if state agency requests are fully funded, forcing legislators to decide how to prioritize budget requests. The first public hearings on the budget are expected next month, while the entire process is likely to continue through June.
PROFS President Grant Petty was asked by WKOW-TV to comment on Governor Scott Walker’s recent remarks about looming budget cuts and the role faculty workload could play as a result. Petty told WKOW that an increase of one course per professor would likely result in a diminished educational experience for students.
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