Future of UW-W in budget’s hands

By Alexandria Zamecnik

Feb. 11, 2015

After Gov. Scott Walker proposed his 2015-17 biennial budget on Feb. 3, many questions arose as to what would happen with the University of Wisconsin System.

If the budget would pass as proposed, $300 million would be cut from the UW System over the course of two years. The $300 million would leave an approximate 13 percent cut to the system and 18.6 percent to UW-Whitewater, according to a report released by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Although UW-W will face a bigger reduction by percent, the amount lost will be smaller than some schools such as UW-Madison or UW-Milwaukee which rely heavier on funding from the state. UW-W may need to cut approximately $7 to $8.5 million in the first year.

Chancellor Richard Telfer held an open forum to discuss the possibilities of where the university may go if the legislators choose not to amend the cut. Some possibilities Telfer listed included reviewing all requests for new faculty, asking departments to cut spending, cutting unnecessary faculty travel and reducing spending on a permanent basis.

“If we are going to have to make reductions, which it looks like we’re going to have to do, I would much rather not hire someone, than let someone off,” Telfer said on reviewing requests for new faculty.

Telfer
Chancellor Telfer

Telfer said the intent is to preserve shared governance and tenure, but ultimately those things would be left up to the Board of Regents to decide. The chancellor also said he intends to continue base adjustments and promotions from any employee, but it is subject to change with final numbers.

In-state students will not see a rise in tuition for the next two years, however, after the tuition freeze is over students may see an inflation in tuition costs. Out-of-state students and graduate students not covered under the tuition freeze may see a rise in tuition as early as next year.

“We have in some years explicitly been told by governors and others that we should raise tuition to make up for that difference and there were two years where we raised it about 35 percent over those years,” Telfer said. “That made up for the impact on the cuts in those years. This cut doesn’t have anything to make up for the impact of it.”
Along with tuition increases in the future, students may see increased class sizes and fewer courses offered. Telfer said the university will consider all options when trying to make up for the cuts.

The $150 million is the biggest single cut to the UW System.

President of Whitewater Student Government, Nathan Perry said it’s important for students to be engaged in the budget process.

“Students should be calling their local representatives,” Perry said. “Nothing is set in stone with the budget; everything is negotiable. There won’t be any negotiating if students don’t use their voice.”

Perry said if students are interested, they can email [email protected] to receive more information on contacting legislators.

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