Faculty Senate seeks budget solutions


Samantha Butzen, Journalist

The Faculty Senate discussed alternative actions to accommodate the university’s budget during its final meeting of the semester Tuesday, Dec. 7.

No one wants to discuss the cutting of things that are beloved to the university, but there is not much time left to decide. The pressure was felt throughout the Senate to come up with solutions for potential future budget shortfalls.

Before getting down to business, there was a moment of gratitude for all of the hard work done this fall semester. The goal of having in-person classes until Nov. 21 had been met, which was a major success for staff and students. The accommodations that are still being made for COVID-19 were made possible by hard work and dedication to the university. 

 “I have great gratitude to all of the faculty for giving the students as normal of a student experience as possible,” said Interim Provost Greg Cook. “The department chairs have worked hard since the beginning of COVID-19.”

The $15 million budget discussion is not being taken lightly. There were budget roadmaps and many responses with plans to fix the issue. 

The open discussion at the end of the meeting offered those in attendance the ability to voice their concerns and questions to Chancellor Dwight Watson about the upcoming decision. 

“It’s not what anyone signed up for,” said Watson. “But we have to get through it.” 

Though it is ideal to set a target number of students that will enroll in the university, it’s dangerous to do so if reality falls short. Lower enrollments over the past couple years have taken a toll on university finances, but the pandemic has exacerbated the situation. 

“Let’s not start naming programs or autonomously deciding to cut programs by department like other UW universities because things will go south fast,” said Faculty Senate Chair Tracy Hawkins. 

Meeting attendees discussed a system of common metrics in order to compare courses and programs equally to decide what might be cut. There will be a program prioritization, meant to make all program aspects stronger rather than weaken some parts and strengthen others. 

The potential for defunding travel and training costs for professional development is not ideal, but seems likely. 

The Faculty Senate plans to continue it’s hard work to ensure academic affairs will endure any hardships the university faces. 

Next Faculty Senate meeting will be held Feb. 2, 2021. For more information on the Faculty Senate visit https://www.uww.edu/facsenate.