Walker plan could cut $4.3 million from UW-W

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Kevin Hoffman
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
— Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to slash funding to state universities could drain as much as $4.3 million from UW-Whitewater’s 2011-12 base budget, college administrators estimate.

Chancellor Richard Telfer released pieces of his budget plan during Tuesday’s faculty senate meeting, reminding professors much of the proposals are contingent upon the fate of Walker’s spending plan. The governor’s budget outlines $250 million in cuts throughout the UW System, including separation of UW-Madison from the state system.

Telfer projects Walker’s budget, as is, would deplete the university’s budget by about $4.3 million. However, much of that could be offset by a 5.5-percent tuition increase and benefit changes, allowing UW-Whitewater to recoup more than $2.8 million.

That would leave a $1.4 million hole in the college’s budget.

“That’s assuming all those things happen,” Telfer said. “We fundamentally will not know, until the budget is approved, whether those things will happen.”

How the university adjusts to that deficit could depend largely on its enrollment, which Telfer told senate members might be at or greater than this year’s record-setting figures. The university receives more money from enrollment than it does from the state, but there are certain restrictions on how that money can be used.

Based on this year’s tuition rates, the university would earn about $585,000 for every additional 100 in-state undergraduates and more than $1.3 million for the same number of out-of-state undergraduates.

“Part of what we’re trying to juggle is if we have more students, it takes care of at least a portion of the cuts that we’re talking about,” Telfer said. “Frankly, the reason we’re financially in pretty good shape on this campus is because we have strong enrollment.”

Regardless of how the college’s finances pan out, Telfer said the university will add 32 positions next fall—about 17 of which would be instructional. That’s in addition to replacing 13 retirees from various departments approved Tuesday by the senate.

There still are several uncertainties for next year, including how some programs will be available to students. Telfer said he recently spoke with another provost in the UW System who said there was a 30-percent decrease in the number of students applying to the college of education.

Telfer didn’t say there would be cuts but did suggest it might be important to examine opportunities to grow or downsize in certain areas.

Members of the UW System continue to fight for support of the Wisconsin Idea Partnership, which would grant all universities the same operational flexibilities offered to UW-Madison under Walker’s budget plan.

Telfer said there are about 12 to 15 of those flexibilities being discussed by some state and campus leaders, though he wouldn’t provide details.

The murky future of the UW System’s stability has created concern among students and legislators that tuition rates will skyrocket, making higher education unaffordable for middle- to lower-income families.

Telfer vowed that UW-Whitewater wouldn’t send tuition “through the roof” to make up for lost funding through the state.

“Our goal is not to shoot tuition up there,” he said. “I want them to give us flexibilities on tuition, to use it for salaries, to use it for financial aid. I think if they do that … we can take care of some of the money problems ourselves.”

Last updated: 5:18 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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