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I am most grateful for your advocacy and support, and that of our community partners, our students, their families, and our alumni. State legislators, including those representing southeastern Wisconsin, listened to our concerns and provided additional resources.
Since the announcement in February of the proposed $300-million cut to the UW System as part of the 2015-2017 biennial budget, we have been anticipating and planning for a reduction in state funding. Reviewing past allocations, a cut of close to $3.5 million in base support was not out of the question.
Action by the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee resulted in a recommendation to reduce the proposed cut to UW System by $50 million. That reduction allowed the UW System budget team to revise the cut to our base budget. The reduction to our base funding in the recently announced UW System 2016 budget is $1.5 million.
Our legislators, UW System and the UW Board of Regents understand and appreciate the value of our university. Like other regional campuses in the UW System, UW-Parkside has a deep involvement in the social and economic fabric of our communities. That realization, I'm sure, helped drive the decision to lessen the severity of the cut.
Our proposed annual operating budget for 2015-2016 is $88.4 million. This investment in public higher education in southeastern Wisconsin helps meet the growing talent needs of our region.
There is another important opportunity: UW System is investing $1.7 million in one-time funds to continue our very positive momentum.
Last year saw historic levels of student retention and graduation.
Our recruitment team brought more than 3,000 prospective students to campus during the recruiting season and participation in new-student orientation is ahead of past years.
UW System's adjustment to our budget reduction and one-time investment will be used to support high-demand academic programs and course delivery methods. Additionally, we will sustain our positive trend in enrollment and retention with a combination of new freshmen, transfer students, international students, and adult and online learners.
More biennial budget discussion is yet to come with the state Legislature and the Governor. On July 9, the Board of Regents will vote on the proposed UW System 2016 annual budget. We will know more about our ultimate position following the Regents meeting.
Together, our dedicated faculty, staff, students, and alumni, along with the greater communities we serve, will advance access to quality and relevant higher education through the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. The future of our students and the vitality of our region depend on it.
Debbie Ford, Chancellor