From the Dean: Comments on the UW budget

As I am sure you are all aware of by now, the Joint Finance Committee of the Wisconsin Legislature considered the UW System budget on May 23. Chancellor Ward released this statement on their actions late last week. This article gives a good overview of the situation.

The committee made significant changes to the budget that will impact UW-Madison. They include:

  • Freezing undergraduate tuition rates for the next two years
  • Eliminating all new state funding that was proposed by the Governor, including reducing the UW System base budget by $32.8 million in each of the next two years
  • Requiring a one-time $58 million transfer from UW System tuition reserves to the Wisconsin Higher Education Grant program
  • Eliminating authority for the chancellor to set the pay plan for UW-Madison faculty and staff, and all funds for a pay plan were transferred back to the state’s compensation reserve.  The result is that any general pay increases will have to be approved by the Joint Committee on Employment Relations as has been the case in the past.
  • Delaying the effective date for implementation of a separate personnel system for UW System and UW-Madison has until July 1, 2015.

I know this is discouraging news, and it is easy to feel as if the legislature does not appreciate the value of our work.  Equally disheartening is that the current disagreements between members of the legislature and UW System administration grab the headlines, where instead we would like the focus to be on the very real impact we as a college have on the state and beyond.

I want you to know that I am confident that, as a college, we are providing the best possible stewardship for all of our revenue sources — regardless of whether they come from student tuition, state tax revenue, federal grants, research sponsors or any other funders. I also want you to know that I hear every day from people around the state and around the world who benefit from our research, teaching and outreach.

I am proud to be the dean of a college that does such good work in so many ways — deepening our understanding of the natural world, translating research for the common good, and providing opportunities for students through the experiences they have here. In short, the work you do changes people’s lives.

I value the creativity and innovation you bring to our classrooms and laboratories. I also want you to know that our students and our community partners value your efforts as much as I do. I am committed to continue to tell the stories of our positive impacts on students, Wisconsin industries and communities around the world.

Thank you for being part of this dynamic community.

Kate VandenBosch, CALS Dean