A Signed Budget and Our Path Ahead

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

We will have much to discuss at our July 16, 1 p.m. Campus Budget meeting. On Sunday Governor Walker signed the 2015-17 budget bill, which includes 104 vetoes. We now have a clear view of where we stand as a campus following the budget signing, vetoes, and UW System Board of Regents’ actions on budget allocations late last week.

The end result includes some positives and some negatives. I will briefly share a few key points here and we will go into more detail at the July 16 campus meeting, which will be live streamed:  https://uwm.edu/streamingvideo/universityrelations/

Budget Cut
The cut to UWM’s budget will not be $24 million each year as anticipated. We will see a $12.2 million cut in our true operating base budget for FY16, which will likely increase to $18 million in FY17. The first year of the cut, for FY16, is being collected from temporary savings throughout the university. Longer-term, substantial cuts are being planned currently. Members of our Budget Planning Task Force will walk through the budget in more detail at Thursday’s meeting.

Student Fees
Students will continue to decide how they allocate and use student fees for student activities. Fee use decisions will be made in partnership with me and are subject to Board of Regents’ final confirmation. Student Association President Mike Sportiello will discuss student fees and advocacy efforts at our July 16 campus meeting.

Faculty Tenure
Tenure will be removed from state statute and moved to Board of Regents policies. This will be done with the broader conditions detailed in section 39 of the Joint Finance Committee’s Omnibus motion. I have asked the University Committee to work on developing recommendations for tenure policies and procedures at UWM. UC Chair Mark Schwartz will share more information about this work at Thursday’s meeting. Updates are also available from the UC News webpage.

Indefinite Status for Academic Staff
Indefinite status appointments for academic staff will continue. Governor Walker vetoed the prohibition of granting these appointments in Board of Regents policies. Academic Staff Committee Chair Sarah Morgan and UWM administration will discuss on Thursday what actions will be taken to reinstate probationary appointments on campus.

What’s Ahead
Overall, we are in a somewhat better position than anticipated. Make no mistake though, this budget cut is the largest than any we have faced in our history. Where our advocacy efforts were probably most evident is with UWM receiving the largest portion among all UW System institutions of the $25 million in restored funds. Hundreds of faculty, staff, students and partners worked tirelessly to advocate for UWM and I sincerely thank each of you.

Our path ahead will not be simple, easy or painless as we first address one-time cuts for the 2015-16 academic year and then tackle the permanent cuts for 2016-17 and thereafter. The Budget Planning Task Force has held two intensive half-day sessions in the past week and is incorporating the suggestions that have come from our university staff, faculty, students, academic staff, UWM retirees, and so many others. We could not effectively address the cuts without your important input.

Together, we will continue our work to transform into the UWM of a new age. There is strength to be found in our collaboration to build an institution of strength amidst a clearly changed environment for higher education.

We have accomplished much thus far and have a ways to go. I will continue to provide updates as our campus shared governance and budget planning and communications task forces advance their work. We also are developing new FAQs and will share these and other updates on the UWM State Budget Information web site

Best regards,

Mark A. Mone