University Committee News

July 30, 2014

The University Committee will host a second “Town Hall” meeting on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, starting at 1:00pm in Zelazo Room 250. We will pursue discussion about our external communication strategy, as well as provide updates and information about the campus strategic situation.

Attached are two documents containing supporting information regarding budgets and messaging.

UWM Strategic Situation (pdf)
Message from Faculty (pdf)
Info Graphics from Town Hall (pdf)
Minutes from the Meeting (pdf)

May 3, 2014

The UC puts forward the following statement regarding our transition in leadership and desperate need for funding at a level commensurate with our size and mission:

UW-Milwaukee:  Securing the Present Allows Reaching for the Future

It has been a turbulent year for UW-Milwaukee (UWM).  In April 2013 we were engulfed by the “cash balances” debacle, which negatively affected funding for our campus in the current biennium.  And then in March 2014, Chancellor Lovell announced his surprising decision to become President of Marquette University later this year.

We note with irony that Chancellor Lovell’s departure has resulted in a welcome and positive spotlight being shown on our campus.  An editorial by the Journal-Sentinel (J-S) on April 5, 2014 provided a candid summary of our contributions, problems, and potential.  UWM has energetic faculty and staff that deliver nationally recognized degree programs and engage in innovative research.  Further, as the J-S editorial noted, “UWM is a strong, engaged participant in public life in Milwaukee…creating powerful collaborations within the community…The community asked—and UWM delivered at a very reasonable price.”

However, despite these successes, UWM is a historically lean and underfunded research campus—an operation which stretches its resources to do the job.  This lack of resources now threatens the growth trajectory of research and puts in jeopardy the high quality education we provide Wisconsin students.  Mike Lovell and all of us on this campus have tried mightily to get that story out, as the J-S editorial notes, “UWM can’t continue to fulfill its larger mission on the cheap.”

So let’s go back to the situation just about a year ago.  During the deliberations on the 2013-2015 biennial budget, legislators “found” that the UW-System had “reserves” of close to $1 billion, implying that university administrators had squirreled away unspent money from the tuition paid by hard working families from across Wisconsin.  However, this perception is in direct contrast to the reality at UWM.  The money the legislators referred to was spread among all the campuses in the UW-System, and there was little discussion of the fact that a large portion was research “reserves” at UW-Madison, or how much was actual money and not bookkeeping methods (i.e., money that is already spent, but remains visible in accounts).

“Never mind!” said the legislature.  “There will be few new tax dollars and no tuition increases for any campuses in the UW-System in 2013-2015 and beyond until the System administration shows where all the money is and why it isn’t being spent.”

At UWM those funds were not actually “reserves”, as Chancellor Lovell noted at the time, but funds necessary for research expansion, and were dedicated to bring to fruition new programs and pay for the people and equipment necessary to open the new science building on campus (IRC), remodel the old Columbia Hospital buildings (NWQ), and open Innovation Park in Wauwatosa.  At the start of the current (2013-2014) fiscal year, UWM held $2.5 million as true reserves, or about 0.5% of our annual income, numbers most businesses would consider woefully insufficient and even risky.

We need to go back even further to better understand our overall funding situation.  In 2009-2010, the Regents and State government had authorized bonding authority to support major new facilities at UWM to the tune of about $240 million.  That bonding authority was linked to three planned biennial base budget increments of $10 million each, designed to put people and researchers to work in these new facilities.  The first $10 million installment came in 2007-09.  Then the world economy crashed, so the second installment was “delayed.”  “Wait until 2011-13,” we were told, “And we’ll get you those funds!”  But the second installment didn’t come in 2011-13 either, and the third installment has never been considered.  If we fast forward to the 2013-15 budget deliberations, we again find that no promised base funding increase has been forthcoming.  So without new operating funds (General Purpose Revenue, or GPR) to actually open the buildings being remodeled or under construction, the campus has had to budget internally to pay for the new facilities and bring them on line.  And it was those “reserves” that the legislature claimed were wasteful!

UWM relies primarily on two major sources to operate:  tuition and GPR from the State budget.   This year, UWM also found itself in a precarious position regarding enrollment.  Wisconsin is currently experiencing a drop in the number of high school graduates, so our historical recruitment pool is shrinking.  No new GPR has been added to UWM’s budget since 2009, despite growth in facilities.  UWM has a strong commitment and desire to give the citizens of Wisconsin (and beyond) the best possible education.  However, compared to our peer institutions in other states, we are not competitively funded by the State of Wisconsin (see the table in a March 29, 2014 J-S article). State funding has been continually eroding in the last few decades.  Not adjusting for inflation, GPR at UWM has shrunk from $138 million or 34 percent of operations in 2002-03 to $124 million or 18 percent in the 2012-13 budget.  It is this reduction in State funding that overwhelmingly drove tuition increases over that period at UWM and most other publicly funded universities across the country.  UWM faculty would like nothing better than for the legislature to “turn back the clock” and provide more State funding so that tuition could continue to be frozen or even reduced, but the State has not shown any inclination to realistically consider the needs of our institution.  Clearly it is our State’s next generation, the one that will drive Wisconsin’s future economy, which is ultimately being shorted by this policy.

So what are the impacts of UWM’s chronic underfunding and why should the public care?  What we are experiencing daily is an exodus of talented people, often taking their funding and resources with them, morale at an all-time low, key positions getting harder and harder to fill or stabilize (as witnessed by the Chancellor’s abrupt departure), new faculty recruitments becoming very difficult to negotiate, the student experience eroding, and lastly, the aforementioned expansion plans and their positive outcomes for Wisconsin’s economy being in danger of stagnating or remaining mostly unfulfilled.

In summary, UW-Milwaukee is achieving excellence in research and fulfilling our academic mission through heroic work with limited resources.  This situation is precarious and cannot be maintained much longer.  UW-Milwaukee needs a fair balance of resources if we are to secure our current ability to serve students and create new knowledge for the economy, as well as realize our proven potential to do even more for the State of Wisconsin in the future.

Apr 3, 2014

UC Chair, Mark Schwartz, sent the following email out today to UWM’s Faculty Senate:

“Following Chancellor Lovell’s surprising announcement, the University Committee (UC) has been fully engaged in discussing and considering potential actions in regard to all the events and their implications. The UC held an emergency meeting last Wednesday, March 26th, and Provost Britz was a guest at our regular weekly UC meeting on Tuesday, April 1st.  You can see a brief synopsis of these meetings here on the UC News webpage.  I have also personally spoken with President Cross four times, conveying our concerns, since Chancellor Lovell’s story broke last Wednesday.  My sense is that President Cross will act to address the situation, as well as quickly appoint an interim Chancellor.

Ultimately, this is a very difficult situation and we want to proceed in ways that will be in the best long-term interest of UW-Milwaukee (UWM).  We need to gracefully and effectively manage the transition from one Milwaukee institution to another so that everybody is clear what the Chancellor’s immediate roles and responsibilities are.  Ideally, we need to present a unified and coherent message to the public and our UWM community, and the UC will do our best to keep you informed during this transition.

The press is hungry for a story, so this could also offer a golden opportunity to take advantage of the spotlight to finally get some of the positive stories we have been pushing written.  Several members of the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board talked with me on Wednesday (following up from last Sunday’s story) and they are preparing an editorial on our situation.  My understanding is that this story will be strongly supportive of UWM and our importance in the future of Milwaukee, SE Wisconsin, and the entire State.

Lastly, just to remind you, we always reserve the first portion of our weekly UC meeting for “persons who wish to be heard” so please feel free to come to our meetings (Tuesdays at 1:00pm each week) or contact me (mds@uwm.edu) or the entire UC (uc@uwm.edu) with your concerns.”

Apr 1, 2014

When Provost Britz arrived, we discussed the strategic planning process and the need to continue our trajectory even with the upcoming changes to administrative leadership. Britz feels that UWM has good support of System President Ray Cross, who seems to understand the desperate need for funding  at UWM.

It should be noted that the UC does not appoint an interim chancellor position. The System President, Ray Cross, will make that appointment, though we are in conversation with him about it.

We want to highlight the following quote by local business leader, Sheldon Lubar, pulled from a recent article in the Journal Sentinel: “The UW System is the most important — without a rival second — the most important institution in the state, and the success of our community in Milwaukee and every community in our state is dependent on a highly educated citizenry,” Lubar said. “The university is not just a punching bag and a place you can take money from without any regard to what its impact is.”

Mar 26, 2014

The UC has worked closely with Dr. Michael Lovell during his time as chancellor of UW-Milwaukee (UWM), and all of us are very sad to see him leave us.  We have witnessed firsthand his enthusiastic leadership of our campus, pride in its accomplishments, and tireless efforts to persuade Legislators and Regents of UWM’s potential.  However, we have also shared his deep frustration at this potential being continually deferred by the UW-System and the State, especially recently, due to a desperate and increasing need for funding commensurate with our mission and the number of students we serve.

We will miss working closely with Chancellor Lovell, but congratulate him on this unexpected career move, and wish him and his family all the best in the future.  Looking forward ourselves, the University Committee has already been in contact with UW-System President Cross.  He has assured us of his firm commitment to working closely with the UC throughout the processes of selecting an Interim Chancellor, and choosing faculty to serve on the search committee when it is formed.  We will do our best to keep you informed as these events unfold.

Mar 25, 2014

The UC met with Provost Britz who spoke of the need to be more aggressive about stating our case in Madison. We discussed the idea of increasing the lobbying effort for UWM and revisited the issue of the “carry-forward surpluses” that were egregious at Madison and virtually non-existent at UWM. We later talked about the guerrilla war between institutional happy talk and the ongoing grimness of enrollment and revenue numbers. Madison’s current freshman class is at an overall high, acknowledged as too big, which gouges the rest of the system. There seems to be no centralized planning for the System.

Mar 18, 2014

We met with Vice Chancellor Robin Van Harpen and Associate Vice Chancellor Jerry Tarrer and had a tutorial and discussion about UWM’s fiscal status and outlook. It was a very useful session, even though depressing in regards to the general fiscal health.

Mar 11, 2014

We met with Chancellor Lovell and talked in fairly general terms about the budget and our endorsement of a pay increase for Graduate Assistants so that we are somewhat competitive in the market and more fair to the students. As always, the question is “Where do we find the money?” though the UC is unanimous in prioritizing this issue and advocating for it at Faculty Senate.

We also discussed procedures for efficient handling and research infrastructure for the use of biological agents.

Provost Britz joined us and spoke about the problems of faculty retention and the number of highly productive colleagues who are being aggressively recruited from UWM. We also discussed the “tuition plateau,” meaning the amount of credits one is able to take as a full time student. A model where credits all cost the same amount as opposed to the current system of categories is worth exploring.

Mar 4, 2014

Academic Staff Committee (ASC) Liaison Daniel Fuhrmann briefed us on the ASC’s discussion of several Academic Staff workload issues, and further developments regarding an Academic Staff mentoring program.

We also met with Vice Chancellor Joan Prince who discussed with us Carnegie Foundation “Elective Community Engagement Classification” which our campus will be applying for later this year.  If our application is successful, this designation will allow UW-Milwaukee faculty and staff to apply to a new source for project funding.

Feb 25, 2014

Before we met with Chancellor Lovell, we discussed UWM’s status as “The Underfunded Campus” and our support of a TA request to bring forward their own concerns about compensation. With the Chancellor, we discussed the need for new faculty in multiple areas. The Chancellor currently needs to privately fundraise for faculty positions and, for example, reminded us that the School of Freshwater Sciences was a response to regional and state needs and requests, so it is particularly frustrating to have to fundraise to fulfill basic functionality. We also discussed enrollment targets for incoming classes. We are funded like a research university of 16,000 students. We now have an “admitted student team” which has helped with our yield of students. Applications and admits are down, but the yield of admits is up.

We spoke with Senator Larson about flexibility regarding resources and  resource allocation and how to better advocate for UWM’s position with the Legislature. We also talked about a “Higher Ed, Lower Debt” campaign regarding financing student loans that Senate Democrats are putting forward.

Feb 18, 2014

We met with Provost Britz and discussed the budget model, the need to realign the budget around priorities, and the need to get salary equity as one of the priorities. The UC emphasized the need to include the necessary salary increases in all budget considerations. We are continually concerned about understanding the very convoluted budget model and how to make it more data-driven.

We also decided that we would discuss these salary issues with Senator Larson in our meeting with him next week.

Feb 11, 2014

We discussed Physical Plant issues with Greg Adams, Director of Facility Services. We began with issues of HVAC in Bolton Hall. He explained that renovation went through numerous separate projects, both major and small. The timing of some of the renovations adhered to state logic of budgets and groupings, rather than a more holistic scheduling of work, logical from the user’s point of view. The water heating and elevators (in Bolton) have been frustrating to occupants. There had been some staffing problems at the engineering company regarding air duct sizing and velocity which have resulted in noise. The question is, when will this system actually work? It is clear that budgeting through State protocols is extremely complex.

If you have facility problems here is what you need to do:
Call Randy Spaeth 229-4742  or 229-4496 (or email rman@uwm.edu)
or call Greg Adams at 229-6368 (or email adamsg@uwm.edu)

Give room number, brief nature of the problem and your contact information. It is helpful to them if you know when the room is accessible. It is also important to work with your building managers. We also discussed issues of physical plant staffing, moves towards more use of “green” cleaning products and general cleanliness of campus and buildings. It was a very productive session.

Feb 4, 2014

Mark Harris (Interim Vice Provost for Research) visited, and we talked about the lack of movement on TA and PA support (there has been only a 1% increase in TA salaries due to budgetary constraints). We broke down the average TA subsidy:  TA = $13,000 average salary / $11,000 tuition / $3,000  fringes =  roughly $27,000

It isn’t really clear what State support is and what tuition support is for the general TA budget line. Mark Harris suggested that it will cost about $3 million to bring the stipends up to a point where we are at a nationally competitive level. He suggested that this is less than one might think. The rates are insultingly low at this point. The graduate stipend rate is one of our big challenges for both top tier research as well as undergraduate teaching. How can we clarify the budgetary procedures in order to stabilize our graduate enrollments? We estimate that there are over 1,000 TAs on campus, so this is clearly a significant issue.

We also spoke about the loss of extramural funding when highly funded faculty are recruited elsewhere and leave.

 

Jan 28,2014

The UC met with Provost Britz and discussed ongoing budgetary issues, including some specific data about enrollment downturns as well as the loss of research money due to recent resignations. We discussed the need to look at enrollment processes from the student and parent point of view, in order to assure an efficient, transparent and user friendly registration and enrollment experience. We also discussed the need to find tenure homes for the School of Continuing Education faculty in order to facilitate the conversion to a non-academic unit.

Jan 14, 2014

The UC met with Chancellor Lovell and discussed the new UW-System President, as well as upcoming discussions on a new System-wide funding model, and ongoing concerns about the continuing downward trends in UW-Milwaukee enrollments. President-designate Cross understands the important roles that UW-Milwaukee can play in moving Southeastern Wisconsin and the entire State forward, but that our ability to do so is being severely limited by inadequate funding. Thus, the Chancellor is optimistic that future funding discussions will recognize and improve that situation.  He is also aware that both lack of coordination and poor communications have played major roles in responses to the campus enrollment decline. The Chancellor will be announcing a major new strategy to address this issue in his Plenary talk next Thursday, January 23rd.

Dec 17, 2013

We met with Chancellor Lovell and continued to discuss budgetary issues and our dire financial need regarding faculty and staff compensation and general financial support so that we are able to fulfill our mission. We also discussed the need for adjusting the proportion of funding that goes from the State to the different campuses. There might be some hope on this front, but it will be a long process.

Dec 5, 2013

Concerned that the Journal Sentinel would foreground only the upper end of our academic pay scale, we sent multiple analyses and narratives, as well as contacts with professors who have recently left UWM, in order to highlight the declining salary and resources that are having dramatic effect on recruitment, retention and the regional economy.

Dec 3, 2013

We spent much of our time discussing an upcoming meeting of The Regents this week in Madison. Here are the items of interest on their agenda:

1. Faculty Workload, Quality of Education, and Compensation

2. Update on 30 credits General Education Core Transfer

3. Freshman Admissions Policy Review

The first item will be covered in an article by the Journal Sentinel that is scheduled to come out this week. Members of the UC have been in touch with the journalist in order to try to tell the story of our severe salary shortfalls in comparison to similar institutions, and how this affects retention of faculty and the economy of the region.

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013:

We continued discussing our budget situation. Administration is beginning to focus on the recruitment and admissions process for 2014-2015. The budgetary health of the campus depends on tuition revenue. Recruiting a strong freshman class, identifying new student markets, and recruiting for graduate degree programs all will be necessary to stem the enrollment decline of the past couple of years in order to stabilize further fiscal stress. State support continues to drop, and we have so far seen none of the autonomy (“tools”) previously promised.

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013:

You may remember the screaming headlines last spring about how the University System had $1 billion unspent (of a roughly $5.9 billion total System budget), e.g., from the Journal Sentinel: “Lawmakers Rip University of Wisconsin System Because of Reserves Revelation. They Resist Giving Uw More Authority over Pay, Personnel….” The upshot was that the legislature cut the university budget, froze tuition increases for the biennium, and called for audits of UW budgeting practices.

Well, it turns out that the LAB lowered the “unspent” funds to $755 million, and classified a bit over 80% of these so called “revenue balances” as money that was in categories of “obligated,” “planned,” “designated,” or “committed reserve” funds. The money was not just sitting there on the books, but in fact was intended for the kind of spending we do every day, such as putting equipment in all those new buildings that are going up at UWM. The fifth category they unfortunately called “undocumented,” and the screaming headlines once again started out by noting that “$142 million” fell into that category, once again, implying we all have lots of spare cash squirreled away from public scrutiny.

Almost $123 million of that $142 million (87%) was “Federal Indirect Cost Return” from grants, what we would call, “$150 money.” About $98 million of the “undocumented” (150 money) was at Madison. UWM had about $6.3 million classified as “undocumented” 150 money. We all know that those funds get plowed back into research operations, as bridge funding between grant cycles, to purchase equipment, for seed money for new initiatives, and to support the research enterprise generally. The audit report does acknowledge that these funds are held very locally, but “that UW institution staff indicated that because Federal Indirect Cost Reimbursement balances are managed at individual departments within the institution, documentation of an obligation or plan could not be provided.” That is, there is no accounting system to monitor the likely thousands of 150 money accounts, large and small, around the system.

Going forward I wonder if legislators and state officials will press for more budget detail, or whether, now that the larger picture is a bit clearer, and the budgets have been cut and tuition frozen, the issue will subside and we’ll be left coping with the fallout.               (written by Margo Anderson)

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013:

UC members met with the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, along with Karen Herzog-Daykin (higher education reporter) at their downtown offices. We discussed the positive impacts of UWM on the region and State, and how to get more effective at disseminating our stories. We brainstormed about how to do this, and will continue to press on this issue.

The views expressed here reflect deliberations within UWM’s University Committee (the executive committee of Faculty Senate) and don’t necessarily reflect the positions of the administration.

Links

• Detailed transcript from the June 3rd
Town Hall Meeting.
• The Wisconsin Retirement System:
“A Program In the Balance”?
• Notes from the June 3rd Town Hall Meeting
• June 5th & 6th Regents Meeting info
can be found here and here.
A Fact Sheet on UWM’s Salary Dilemmas
A Fact Sheet on UWM’s Budget Dilemmas
• Journal Sentinel (5/17/14)
An Op-ed by the UC:
UWM Needs Fair Balance of Resources
• Journal Sentinel (5/3/14)
A Need to Move Forward
• Milwaukee Business Journal (5/2/14)
UWM at Crossroads
• Journal Sentinal (4/5/14)
It Boils Down to Money
• Journal Sentinel (3/31/14)
UWM’S Promise to Students
• Urban Milwaukee (4/1/14) Why UWM Matters
• Journal Sentinel (3/29/14) Mike Lovell’s Departure…
• Social Media in Academia (12/19/13),
and Fireable Tweets.
• Journal Sentinel article (12/5/13):
“UW & UWM Scramble To Ward Off Suitors…”
• “Undocumented money…” (Madison.com article)