Committee on Joint Finance Public Hearing

Joint Finance Committee Hearing April 10

The following testimony was presented at the Committee on Joint Finance Hearing in Oak Creek on April 10. The remarks were made by Chancellor Mark Mone, Vice Chancellor of Finance & Administrative Affairs Robin Van Harpen, and David Riggs, Business Unit Manager, Eurofins.

Mark Mone, Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Good morning. I’m Mark Mone, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Thank you, Co-Chairs Darling and Nygren and committee members, for the opportunity to provide input today.

With more than 27,000 students on three campuses, UW-Milwaukee is the ONLY public, urban, research university with the most diverse students in Wisconsin – and, we play a critical role in the state’s economy. Every one of our students will impact the future of our state. We need to invest in them.

Over 80 percent of our graduates stay in Wisconsin. No other campus has as many (5,000+) students remaining here, joining the workforce annually. 187,000 alumni, and counting.

It’s critical that we continue our positive impact on the state. That’s why we support the Board of Regents’ budget request, including investing in capacity-building initiatives to add hundreds of students in high-demand fields such as nursing, computer and data sciences and engineering.

As one of the nation’s top 130 research universities, we MUST maintain and strengthen our exceptional faculty and staff. They profoundly impact the future of thousands of lives every day, along with vital business and community partnerships. In the last four years, UWM cut its staff substantially. Some star faculty have been poached by universities that offer significantly higher salaries. Our ability to sustain our top research R1 status is directly related to the size of our faculty, which is down more than 13% since 2015.

We strongly support an employee compensation plan to help retain our excellent faculty and staff. We ask for full funding of the proposed increase.

We support college affordability, though if tuition is frozen for a fourth consecutive biennium, we will desperately need the state to cover the tuition share.

Now is the time to invest in the future of our state. We are working creatively and collaboratively to maximize the significant, positive impact of a degree from UWM/UWS.

We are spearheading the Freshwater Collaborative – the nation’s most significant, multi-institutional higher education program serving the freshwater economy. The collaborative will allow students to traverse disciplines and focus areas across ALL 13 System campuses.

Year after year, we see headlines about Wisconsin’s lagging innovation. We are investing in entrepreneurship. I invite you to attend the grand opening on May eighth of our Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and Welcome Center. It further accelerates our work to build a highly-collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystem.

These are bright sparks. But we need to do more to fully ignite the vast potential of an educated, highly-skilled citizenry. And that means investing in our failing buildings.

Robin Van Harpen, Vice Chancellor and Chief Business Officer will discuss our capital budget.

Robin Van Harpen, Vice Chancellor of Finance & Administrative Affairs

Thank you, Chancellor Mone.

Growing Wisconsin’s talent pipeline requires a reinvestment in instructional and research spaces to train and develop graduates in high-demand areas.

UWM’s Chemistry building is in the worst shape of any UW System science building. Built in 1972, it generates around 450 maintenance calls per year while serving 2400 students per year. Students and faculty members delay work because of mechanical problems. We need your support to replace this critical science building that is in danger of catastrophic failure.

Likewise, our budget request includes a critical investment in infrastructure repairs in our Student Union, which averages 22,000 daily visitors – to our knowledge, the highest traffic of any building in the UW System.  UWM Union’s, largely constructed between 1954 and 1969, is rated “F” for physical condition and “D” for functionality, while all other UW student unions have “A” or “B” ratings due to more recent construction or renovation. Please endorse the capital budget.

UWM is responsive to the needs of the state while providing economical higher educational opportunities. Our dual mission of research and access is one of Wisconsin’s greatest assets, delivering value through graduates who contribute to our state.

I’ll now introduce David Riggs, who will talk about the importance of chemistry to the state’s economic health.

David Riggs, Business Unit Manager, Eurofins

Good morning. I’m David Riggs, Business Unit Manager for Eurofins SF Analytical, a global iconic chemistry and testing laboratory founded in 1900 located in New Berlin. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you today.

Eurofins is the largest and fastest growing federation of independent laboratories in the world with global sales of more than $5 Billion and over 50,000 employees.  I am a 34-year industry veteran and oversee the New Berlin Lab which has doubled revenue over the past 3 years and employs more than 40 full time scientists, most of whom have backgrounds in chemistry or biochemistry.   These are good jobs with average starting salaries in the $40,000-$50,000 range and experienced chemists making $70,000+ ,plus great benefits.  More than 1/3 of the 20 new jobs created during our past 3 years of growth have been filled by UW-MKE chemistry or biochemistry graduates.

Chemistry education is critical.

In order for Eurofins to continue to grow and create additional good paying jobs, it is imperative that we have improved facilities, classrooms, laboratories and equipment to educate and train qualified chemists to meet anticipated demand and support growth in coming years.  The work performed at our lab supports food, beverage, biopharma, high tech industries across Wisconsin and the Midwest.  Chemistry promotes economic development, innovation, discoveries, job creation, profits and tax revenues that benefit all stakeholders in Wisconsin.

A new chemistry building for UWM is critical for SE Wisconsin to support continued job growth and position Wisconsin to be an innovator and the preferred destination for growing companies for years to come.

Thank you for your time. Chancellor Mone …

Mark Mone, Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Thank you. We are grateful for your time and commitment to reinvest in higher education.