State budget lapse means about 10 fewer faculty hires for CALS

The CALS budget team has worked through the numbers on the impact of the budget lapse—our share of the additional $174.3 million one-time budget reduction assessed to UW System’s state funding for the 2011-2013 biennium.

The upshot: The college will be able to fill perhaps 10 fewer faculty positions than had seemed possible before the lapse was announced. It’s disappointing, to say the least, says CALS Interim Dean Bill Tracy.

“This will really affect how we can carry out our mission, and in some cases we may have to reexamine our mission.” Tracy says.

“Our original biennial 2011-2013 budget cut was 3.9 percent, and we had developed a plan to deal with that and still hire 15 or 16 new faculty members,” Tracy says. “We had 27 resignations and retirements last year, and we’d already lost a lot of faculty over the past 20-30 years. We needed to minimize the losses.”

CALS’ share of the lapse comes to $718,150. The total campus assessment was $17.4 million in 2012-2013 and $7.4 million in 2013-2014. This cut comes on top of the college’s 3.9 percent base budget reduction announced earlier.

One thing that isn’t likely to place an additional burden on CALS is a directive from the provost that only positions that the Dean deems essential can be filled—what many are terming as a hiring freeze. “We already have a good system in place for evaluating what’s essential,” Tracy says.

How the College will allocate the few positions it can fill will be the focus of a Dec. 15 all-day meeting of the CALS Academic Planning Council and the CALS administrative team, including incoming Dean Kate VandenBosch. Department chairs will present their hiring priorities to the APC, which will use that information to draft its own priority list. The APC list will inform the decision-making for the CALS administrative team.

“Early in the new year we will begin to release those positions based on the conclusions of that process,” Dean Tracy says.

One big uncertainty looking forward is whether state budget lapse is truly a one-time event. “For budgeting purposes, we’re to treat it like a base budget cut. Until we know otherwise, we have to budget as if the money isn’t going to be there,” Tracy says.