Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
Today Gov. Scott Walker unveiled his plan for the UW System in the upcoming 2015-’17 biennial budget. The proposal includes a $300 million budget cut and tuition freeze over the next two years in exchange for all UW institutions receiving greater operational flexibilities. In addition, the UW System would become a public authority, rather than remain a department of State government.
The governor outlined his plan in this news release, and he is expected to provide more information on the proposal when he delivers his budget address to the State Legislature next Tuesday, Feb. 3. The Legislature will then begin its own review of the proposal, with public hearings conducted by the Joint Finance Committee and, eventually, a full debate in both the State Assembly and State Senate this Spring.
Because we have not seen all of the details, it is unclear exactly how the proposed budget cuts would affect UWM, but we do know that there has never been a budget cut of this magnitude in the UW System. We already are one of the leanest and most efficient research universities in the country. I am deeply concerned that if the proposed cuts materialize there will be a significant impact on our ability to serve our students and meet our mission as a public urban research university. I have been consulting closely with representatives of campus shared governance, and I am forming a special Budget Planning Task Force that will include representatives of faculty, staff and student shared governance, to help us determine how best to manage our campus budget if changes are made to our state appropriations through the biennial budget process.
UWM plays an incredibly important role in Wisconsin, preparing thousands of students each year to become key members of Wisconsin’s communities and workforce, as well producing research that improves Wisconsin and the world. We also provide the intellectual capacity that leads to knowledge and job creation. We must and will do all that we can to keep UWM and all of higher education strong for future generations.
I will talk more about the proposed state budget when I deliver my plenary address to campus on Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 2:30 pm in the Zelazo Center. You are welcome to join me in person or view it online.
Mark A. Mone