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On July 9, the UW Board of Regents approved the UW System 2015-2016 annual budget, which includes our operating budget of $88.4 million. When we submitted our proposed annual budget in May, prior to knowing the final outcome of the state's 2015-2017 biennial budget, we had already reduced our base budget by approximately $2 million to address a well-documented structural deficit. Our 2014-2015 operating budget was $90.5 million. As I have communicated in the past, much of that reduction was accomplished through the elimination of 14 vacant staff positions.
When Gov. Walker signed the 2015-2017 state budget on July 12, that action set in motion a $250-million reduction in funding to the UW System and a tuition freeze for resident undergraduates through the 2016-2017 academic year. Our portion of the $250-million cut is a reduction to our base budget of $1.5 million in each of the next two years. However, this amount is approximately $2 million a year less than what we may have incurred under previous budget-reduction allocations. In addition,
UW System is investing $1.7 million in one-time funds to help us enhance our learning environment as we work together to grow enrollment and sustain historic levels of student success.
Without question, your compassion, advocacy, and support – along with that of our community partners, our students, their families and our alumni – helped secure additional resources.
Read more about the 2015-2017 state budget and its impact on the UW System.
In addition, the 2015-2017 biennial budget includes statutory changes to Chapter 36 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code. Tenure provisions were removed from state statutes and adopted into UW Board of Regents policy. UW System President Ray Cross and Board of Regents President Regina Millner have appointed a task force to review the tenure policy. Professor of Communication Dr. Jonathan Shailor will represent UW-Parkside on this important initiative, which begins in August. I will work closely with Dr. Shailor and faculty leaders to keep the campus informed of the group's progress.
Several changes also were made to the shared governance language contained in Wisconsin statutes. You can read the details of the changes here. A few weeks ago, I met with leaders from the faculty, academic staff, and university staff to discuss the anticipated changes in shared-governance language. We agreed that the principles of shared governance are core to our work and shared mission at UW-Parkside. We agreed to maintain normal operations as we work together to understand the new language and review our policies, practices and procedures.
To paraphrase Secretary of the Faculty Dr. Greg Mayer, I ask the campus governance groups and committees to "consider how their operations and responsibilities will be maintained, transformed, transferred, or retired (as the case may be) under the requirements and implications of the new statutory language, and to bring these considerations as to how their roles may change to our forthcoming discussions."
The shared governance task force appointed by President Cross and Regent President Millner has been relieved of its duties since the shared governance language, although altered, remains in state statutes.
The 2015-2017 state budget creates both challenges and opportunities for UW-Parkside. During 2015-16, we will continue to be excellent stewards of our financial resources using a three-part strategy to address funding challenges:
The path to fiscal stability and growth is a united and strategic focus on student success. I am confident we will continue to provide a quality learning experience for our students inside and outside of the classroom. In an environment that is always changing, the one constant has been your commitment to delivering our mission and being a champion of all that makes UW-Parkside a real and amazing place to learn and grow.
Join with me as we enhance our efforts to recruit, enroll, retain, support, inspire, teach, learn from, and graduate UW-Parkside students.
In a little less than a month – Thursday, Aug. 27, to be exact – we'll gather for our annual Fall Convocation to celebrate and honor faculty and staff, welcome new colleagues, and recognize our retirees. Together, we 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.