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Education
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UW-Whitewater leaders share ways to reduce spending as budget concerns loom

WHITEWATER

Officials at UW-Whitewater shared examples Monday of how the university can save millions of dollars as it faces declining enrollment.

Chancellor Dwight Watson held his first State of the University address Monday. Much of the speech centered on budget concerns.

Watson on Jan. 23 announced preliminary plans to cut the university’s budget by $12 million over the next two years.

For the third year in a row, enrollment for the Whitewater campus went down, dropping 4.1%—from 12,084 students in 2018 to 11,586 in 2019, according to data from the fall semester.

Enrollment at the university’s Rock County campus in Janesville is down 11.6%—from 975 students in 2018 to 862 students this year.

Watson introduced three members of his cabinet to speak on how their respective divisions are working to cut expenses and increase revenue.

The administrative affairs division hopes to save $4 million in the current year and in 2021. It has met $2.2 million of its goal, said Grace Crickette, vice chancellor for administrative affairs.

The division has done so by increasing efficiency, absorbing and restructuring workload for faculty and staff and reorganizing service efforts, Crickette said.

Efficiency and cost saving efforts include:

  • Reducing the number of fleet vehicles to save $243,000.
  • Repurposing furniture instead of buying new.
  • Implementing an online parking system that has generated $3,233 in revenue.
  • Using “green” cleaning and grounds initiatives to save $80,976.

The university’s Process Improvement Advisory Team has at least 20 projects in the works that could save $750,000 as it focuses on incremental changes to improve university processes, Crickette said.

Interim Provost Greg Cook said the university has to maintain its strength of having talented staff that provide students individualized attention.

Watson acknowledged the campus’ concern about potential layoffs or staffing cuts but did not give insight as to when or how layoffs could happen.

The university will spend $1.3 million in the coming year on strategies for attracting new students, Cook said.

New degree programs will be considered to attract students and increase revenue, Cook said.

UW-Whitewater in the fall will offer new degrees in business analytics, higher education leadership and communication.

The UW-Whitewater at Rock County campus is partnering with UW-Platteville to offer bachelor’s degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering, Cook said.

The UW System Board of Regents will vote this week to approve two new master’s degree programs for UW-Whitewater—cyber security, and instructional design and learning technology.

Not mentioned during Monday’s address was the Board of Regents upcoming vote to raise tuition for nonresident and graduate students.

The board on Friday will decide whether to allow a 1% to 3% increase in tuition for those groups of students, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

In-state undergraduate tuition cannot be increased because of a statewide tuition freeze approved in 2013.

Many programs under the student affairs division are self-sustaining because of student fees, meaning they are less likely to be affected by declining tuition funds, said Artanya Wesley, interim vice chancellor for student affairs.

Some of those programs include textbook rental, university health and counseling services, dining services and housing services.

Anthony Wahl 

Chancellor Dwight Watson gives his first State of the University address in the Young Auditorium on Monday.

Fees are adjusted in correlation with enrollment changes to avoid burdening students with fees, Wesley said.

The university will schedule community listening sessions to gather input as budget decisions continue to be made, Watson said.

Watson encourages listeners to “speak their truth” at upcoming listening sessions and to let their opinions be guided by facts, not speculation.


Politics
AP
Dems lay a big caucus egg: No results from Iowa election

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democratic party officials in Iowa worked furiously Tuesday to deliver the delayed results of their first-in-the-nation caucus, as frustrated presidential candidates claimed momentum and plowed ahead in their quest for the White House.

Technology problems and reporting “inconsistencies” kept Iowa Democratic Party officials from releasing results from Monday's caucus, the much-hyped kickoff to the 2020 primary. It was an embarrassing twist after months of promoting the contest as a chance for Democrats to find some clarity in a jumbled field with no clear front-runner.

Instead, caucus day ended with no winner, no official results and many fresh questions about whether Iowa can retain its coveted “first” status.

State party officials said final results would be released later Tuesday and offered assurances that the problem was not a result of a “hack or an intrusion." Officials were conducting quality checks and verifying results, prioritizing the integrity of the results, the party said in a statement.

The statement came after tens of thousands of voters spent hours Monday night sorting through a field of nearly a dozen candidates who had spent much of the previous year fighting to win the opening contest of the 2020 campaign and, ultimately, the opportunity to take on President Donald Trump this fall.

The candidates didn't wait for the party to resolve its issues before claiming, if not victory, progress and moving on to next-up New Hampshire.

“It looks like it’s going to be a long night, but we’re feeling good," former Vice President Joe Biden said, suggesting the final results would “be close.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he had “a good feeling we're going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa” once results were posted. “Today marks the beginning of the end for Donald Trump," he predicted.

"Listen, it’s too close to call," Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. "The road won’t be easy. But we are built for the long haul."

And Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was most certain.

“So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation,” he said. "By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

Democrats faced the possibility that whatever numbers they ultimately released would be questioned. And beyond 2020, critics began wondering aloud whether the Iowa caucuses, a complicated set of political meetings staged in a state that is whiter and older than the Democratic Party, are a tradition whose time had past.

The party has tried to accommodate critics, this year by promising to report three different data points about voters' preferences, presumably improving transparency. But the new system created new headaches.

State party spokeswoman Mandy McClure said it had “found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results," forcing officials to try to verify results with “underlying data” and the paper trail.

Some of the trouble stemmed from issues with a new mobile app developed to report results to the party. Caucus organizers reported problems downloading the app and other glitches.

Des Moines County Democratic Chair Tom Courtney said the new app created “a mess.” As a result, Courtney said precinct leaders were phoning in results to the state party headquarters, which was too busy to answer their calls in some cases.

Organizers were still looking for missing results several hours after voting concluded.

Shortly before 2 a.m., the state party was making plans to dispatch people to the homes of precinct captains who hadn't reported their numbers. That's according to a state party official in the room who was not authorized to share internal discussions publicly.

Earlier in the night, Iowa Democrats across the state cast their votes, balancing a strong preference for fundamental change with an overwhelming desire to defeat Trump. At least four high-profile candidates vied for the lead in a contest that offered the opening test of who and what the party stands for in the turbulent age of Trump.

It's just the first in a primary season that will span all 50 states and several U.S. territories, ending at the party’s national convention in mid-July.

For Democrats, the moment was thick with promise for a party that has seized major gains in states since Trump won the White House in 2016. But instead of clear optimism, a growing cloud of uncertainty and intraparty resentment hung over the election as the prospect of an unclear result raised fears of a long and divisive primary fight in the months ahead.

One unsurprising development: Trump won the Republican caucus, a largely symbolic victory given that he faced no significant opposition.

The president's campaign eagerly seized on the Democrats' problems.

“Democrats are stewing in a caucus mess of their own creation with the sloppiest train wreck in history," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said. “It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process. And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system?”

Pre-caucus polls suggested Sanders entered the night with a narrow lead, but any of the top four candidates — Sanders, Biden, Warren and Buttigieg — was positioned to score a victory. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who represents neighboring Minnesota, was also claiming momentum, while outsider candidates including entrepreneur Andrew Yang, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard could be factors.

"We know one thing: We are punching above our weight,” Klobuchar said late Monday, promising to keep fighting in New Hampshire.

New voters played a significant role in shaping Iowa's election.

About one-quarter of all voters reported that they were caucusing for the first time, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Democratic caucuses. The first-timers were slightly more likely to support Sanders, Warren or Buttigieg, compared with other candidates.

At the same time, VoteCast found that roughly two-thirds of caucusgoers said supporting a candidate who would fundamentally change how the system in Washington works was important to their vote. That compared to about a third of caucusgoers who said it was more important to support a candidate who would restore the political system to how it was before Trump’s election in 2016.

Not surprisingly, nearly every Iowa Democrat said the ability to beat Trump was an important quality for a presidential nominee. VoteCast found that measure outranked others as the most important quality for a nominee.

The 2020 fight has already played out over myriad distractions, particularly congressional Democrats' push to impeach Trump, which has often overshadowed the primary and effectively pinned several leading candidates to Washington at the pinnacle of the early campaign season.

Meanwhile, ultrabillionaire Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is running a parallel campaign that ignored Iowa as he prepares to pounce on any perceived weaknesses in the field come March.

The amalgam of oddities was building toward what could be a murky Iowa finale before the race pivoted quickly to New Hampshire, which votes next Tuesday.

For the first time, the Iowa Democratic Party planned to report three sets of results: a tally of caucus-goers’ initial candidate preference; vote totals from the “final alignment” after supporters of lower-ranking candidates were able to make a second choice; and the total number of State Delegate Equivalents each candidate receives.

There is no guarantee that all three will show the same winner when they're ultimately released.

The Associated Press will declare a winner based on the number of state delegates each candidate wins, which has been the traditional standard.

———

Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”


Obituaries and death notices for Feb. 4, 2020

Nancy “NJ” J. Boyd

Paul Patrick Dale

Barbara J. Iwan

Lysbeth May Kelly

Lee R. Minnick

Richard Carl Schwabe

Clifford “Red” St. Clair Jr.


Local
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Beloit College Powerhouse ready for open house

BELOIT

Beloit College’s new $38 million Powerhouse facility is complete and ready for students, staff and the community to admire.

Located at the site of the decommissioned Blackhawk Generating Station, the facility takes Beloit College across Pleasant Street to the banks of the Rock River. An overhead pedestrian bridge will carry students from the main campus to the new facility.

Beloit College's new student center

Beloit College will showcase the Powerhouse during an open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

“This is an open house in the truest sense of the word. We want to open the doors to the community to show off what we think is the best student and community center in the country,” Powerhouse project manager Dan Schooff said.

The goal was for the Powerhouse to connect student life spaces with recreational facilities. The five-story facility is home to meeting rooms, nooks and “hang out” space, an indoor track, pool, cafe, field house, conference center, outdoor decks and a health and wellness center. Workers in June installed a pedestrian bridge over Pleasant Street to connect the campus to the Powerhouse.

Discussions about the project started in 2009, when Alliant Energy discussed closing the Blackhawk Generating station and the college was looking for a place for its fitness facility. Beloit College kicked off a capital campaign for the project in 2014 with the goal of raising $38 million in three years.

In April 2017, Beloit College announced it had reached its goal, and Alliant Energy began removing its equipment to prepare for remodeling.

Corporate Contractors Inc. in February 2018 began construction to transform the 105,000-square-foot building. Last week, workers were putting the finishing touches on the Powerhouse. As part of a series of soft openings in the past weeks, Beloit College held swim, softball and baseball practices and faculty meetings in the new space.

“Students returned to campus on Jan. 19 and have been anxiously awaiting the doors to be open. A soft opening is being planned for sometime this week,” Schooff said.

Work is still underway on the 17,000-square-foot artificial turf field house.

“The shell is up, and it should be done in early May,” Schooff said.

The facility incorporates features from the Powerhouse’s history, such as coal hoppers and funnels, a 100-foot tall smokestack to peer into, old intake pipes and retro gauges. Schooff commended management and workers with Alliant Energy and Corporate Contractors for carefully removing equipment and giving special attention to preserving historic features.

While giving a nod to the past, the Powerhouse incorporates the latest technology. A geothermal energy system uses river water to power the heating and cooling system, for example.

Schooff said the facility is expected to be a point of pride for the campus for years to come.

“Beloit College has had such a high quality experience in the classroom and the college, and students deserve a high quality student union and recreation center to go along with that. It will help in marketing the college to prospective students across the country,” he said.