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.”