UW-Whitewater will rally to meet budget challenges
Recently I had the opportunity to speak to the UW-Whitewater campus community about the challenges we face in light of the state’s $5.7 billion budget shortfall. As a state-supported campus, we receive about $55 million, or 24 percent of our money, from the state of Wisconsin. Because of this shortfall, we will need to reduce about $7.5 million from our next two budget years.
While this will not be a painless exercise for our campus, we also realize that the state and nation are in an economic crisis that will require all of us to make significant sacrifices. I am working closely with the chancellor’s staff and our campus-wide Strategic Planning and Budget Committee to accomplish these necessary cuts in ways that maintain our commitment to providing an excellent educational experience to all of our students.
We must reduce about $5 million in the 2009-2010 budget. These are going to be difficult reductions to make and will affect all students, faculty and staff.
Students will likely see increases in tuition and other fees. Class sections could be eliminated, and there may be changes in staffing. But we must move forward with our mission and not let the economic conditions cloud our view of the future. I am confident we will find a way to satisfy Gov. Jim Doyle’s requests for state agencies and still fulfill our mission.
Like Gov. Doyle and UW System President Kevin Reilly, I truly believe that providing the residents of Wisconsin with exceptional higher educational choices and quality degrees will help the long-term economic development of this great state. We will be a better Wisconsin when more people earn undergraduate degrees and are prepared to face the challenges of a changing economy.
Even with these significant budget reductions, UW-Whitewater will move forward and continue making substantial contributions to the regional economy. Our Small Business Development Center has already established a strong relationship with Forward Janesville and opened a satellite office in downtown Janesville to provide easier access to clients needing business counseling services.
UW-Whitewater is partnering with the city of Whitewater to develop the Whitewater University Technology Park. Once complete, it will provide an innovation center and space for new high-tech businesses and research opportunities.
Our campus is also committed to a greater level of environmental sustainability. We have replaced parking lot lights with more environmentally friendly and economical LED lights. We are emphasizing the value of recycling to students, faculty and staff; and we are working on many other projects that in the future may save significant money in terms of utility and other costs.
In the coming weeks, we will begin to address the specific areas of the campus budgets that will be reduced. I am under no illusions that this will be an easy process. But we are a campus that rallies to solve problems. We will come together again to do what the governor and the Legislature ask of us while still giving back to the region.
Richard J. Telfer is chancellor of UW-Whitewater; e-mail Telferr@uww.edu.