Monday, July 18, 2005

Chancellor's Comments about the Budget meeting

Chancellor Wells send this out to the university community a few days ago. In it, he discusses his perceptions of the regents meeting:

The purpose of this memo is to provide the campus community with highlights of the Board of Regents’ meeting and their Question and Answer session with Governor Doyle on 7 July 2005 and with a strategy to meet the additional budget cuts and provisions contained in the Legislature’s revised budget now sitting on the Governor’s desk.

In our joint presentation to the Board of Regents at their meeting last Thursday, UW Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard explained the cost to his campus community of coping with recent major cut backs in funding, and I spelled out with brutal frankness the dire consequences the additional cuts and provisions contained in the Legislature’s budget would have for faculty, staff and students at UW Oshkosh. In addition to providing insight into the damaging consequences of these kinds of cuts for our campuses, our presentations delivered information that is representative of the kinds of costs all UW institutions will bear if these cuts are not vetoed by Governor Doyle.

After hearing details of the disastrous impact additional budget reductions would have on our campuses, the Regents voted 10-6 to approve an operating budget that “reflects cuts and reallocations required by the state, as well as increased costs for fringe benefits, debt service and utilities. It also includes a 2 percent pay plan recommendation, proposed by the Office of State Employment Relations in May. . . a tuition increase of 6.9 percent for resident undergraduate students. . . room-and-board rate increases averaging 5 percent, and segregated-fee rate increases averaging 8.8 percent at the 13 four-year campuses.” A summary of deliberations, discussions and outcomes of the BOR meeting is available at

Many Regents and Chancellors thanked us for detailing how our respective campus communities were dealing with the strain of large budget cuts. They also expressed their perturbation over the impending consequences of further large funding cuts added by the legislature, and they vowed to help convince the Governor to restore funding with his veto pen.

At the Question and Answer session with the Governor, three priorities emerged.

1) The Chancellors and Regents expressed serious concerns over the need for more financial aid for students, and I am pleased to report that Governor Doyle assured us he would work hard to soften the impact for students of the tuition and rate increases.

2) The Chancellors and Regents voiced grave misgivings over the damage that the $34 million being withheld at the request of the Senate would inflict on our campuses, and I am happy to report that Governor Doyle said he will likely be able to restore the $34 million. If the Governor accomplishes this, then the dire consequences outlined in my BOR presentation, such as the loss of 6,600 seats and the layoff of 60 teaching staff, will not be necessary. A problem remains, however, in that we would still need to prepare for the increased cuts added by the Joint Finance Committee and approved by the Legislature. The estimated share for UW Oshkosh over the biennium is $1,066,457 of which $666,000 needs to be identified in the 2005-06 budget.

Fortunately, in our initial budget planning exercise for the $2.6 million cut, we set aside $200,000 for unanticipated cuts. Furthermore, we will cut minimally an additional $100,000 in administrative costs through reassignments and reorganization and by canceling two searches -- those for the Associate Vice Chancellor for Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement and for the Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment and Information Services. Thus, through these actions we will have met $300,000 of the $666,000 cut. The remaining $366,000 cuts for this academic year as well as those related to the 2006-07 academic year will be identified through our normal process, and as usual, your input will be requested.

3) Finally, the Chancellors explained the importance of removing the 1.5% employee contribution to the pension fund, and I want you to know that while Governor Doyle said he intends to veto it, he has a challenge to find the necessary funding.

I cannot stress how crucial it is to convince Governor Doyle that wide-spread and strong support exists beyond that voiced by the Chancellors and Regents for these vetoes. I encourage you to share your concerns and priorities, especially over the 1.5% employee contribution to the pension fund, with the Governor’s office. Should you decide to call or write, please abide by University policy and do so as a private citizen.

I fully understand the demoralizing impact of frankly discussing highly undesirable consequences, such as layoffs and major reductions in the number of seats available, and I would like to point out that last week such candor served us well by engendering a greater sense of urgency. I deeply appreciate your patience, cooperation and understanding as we negotiate these difficult times.

While the state is defining access as keeping seats in classrooms, which we have done, it has significantly diminished the quality of access for each seat by reducing support for supplies, equipment, field trips and other essential resources. I believe that access without quality is no access at all and that quality without access is simply self serving especially for a public university. This is a message that I constantly and consistently share with elected officials and external stakeholders. We must maximize access without eroding quality for our students.

No comments: