Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has a profound impact on our state. We educate and enrich more Wisconsin residents than any institution. We also educate Wisconsin’s workforce, as more than 80 percent of our alumni remain in the state to live, work and play. Our annual total economic impact locally and regionally is $1.5 billion, with that economic activity resulting in nearly 15,000 jobs.
We are engaged with the community through the arts with 300-plus live performances on and off campus and hundreds of partnerships with corporations, social service providers, health care providers, public and private schools and colleges and universities. UWM students work as interns, student teachers and community volunteers—spending thousands of hours annually in the region. As one community leader and UWM alumnus states, if UWM didn’t exist, we would have to create it.
But today, our university is facing a great challenge. The state budget that has been proposed by Gov. Scott Walker would result in a $300 million reduction in state aid to the University of Wisconsin System. UWM’s share of that cut is expected to be $40 million over the next two years, the biggest budget cut in our history. The proposed budget cut is of a magnitude that will present unprecedented challenges to UWM. We already are one of the leanest research universities in the country. If the budget reductions are approved, it will impact our ability to serve students and support the important research work that benefits communities and businesses throughout the region.
The governor’s plan also calls for another two-year freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition, which is a positive for students and parents. In addition, the plan will give the UW System greater autonomy and flexibilities that would make the UW more efficient in the long run. However, while the proposed budget cuts will be felt immediately, the proposed benefits of flexibility and autonomy will likely take years to realize.
Make no mistake. We are committed to helping the state address its budget problems. I have appointed a budget planning task force that will examine every part of the university’s operations, to determine how we can become even more efficient and effective. We will look at every program and every office for ways to help us reduce costs while limiting the impact on our students. Still, the proposed cuts are so overwhelming that I am asking for your help.
I encourage you to contact your local state legislators to tell them about the positive impact UWM has had on you, your family and our community. And ask them to reduce the proposed cut to the UW System budget while granting more flexibility so that we can do our jobs more efficiently. Faculty and staff should not use university resources to contact legislators; please take care to use your personal email.
You can find information about how to connect with your legislator on our Panther Advocates website. You can also learn more about the work we are doing to address the budget challenges on our State Budget Information website.
We welcome your advice and support as we move forward together through this challenging time. In the meantime, I pledge that we will work hard with openness, fairness, ingenuity and compassion to preserve the quality and affordability of education for our students and their families.
Mark A. Mone