By Maria Corpus
University of Wisconsin campuses learned the final budget numbers for the 2015-16 year on Monday, with UW-Milwaukee (UWM) receiving $18 million in cuts — the second-largest among campuses.
The cuts range from $59 million to $851,000, with UW-Madison receiving the largest hit and UW-Superior receiving the smallest. Total, the UW System is facing $125 million in cuts, which is half of the proposed cuts in the 2015-17 biennial budget.
In a statement addressed to UWM’s faculty and staff, Chancellor Mark Mone noted it’s the largest budget decrease in UWM’s history. However, he expressed commitment to moving the university forward.
“We will not be the same UWM that we have been,” Mone said.
“This is not to say that we will be an impoverished or lesser institution.
Rather, we are taking a very deliberate approach to reformulating a UWM of strength.”
Although all campuses will be affected, each institution’s unique circumstances were factored in when determining the final budget.
The UW System took into consideration Pell grant recipient enrollment and economy-of-scale challenges. UWM, for example, received the largest share of $25 million in restored funds by the Joint Finance Committee.
Yet, students at UWM expressed concern about the university’s future.
Sarah O’Connell is a third year doctoral student, studying Literary and Cultural Theory.
She said the cuts are devastating to students.
“It’s not just about present day people, but about the future students,” O’Connell said.
“It could affect how others see our school.”
“I’m hoping Chancellor Mone and President Ray Cross push on the Board of Regents as much as they can, especially UWM and UW-Madison, which face higher cuts,” she added.
Derek Schmitt is a film student at UWM and works for Parking and Transportation at the Union. He noted that departments and programs such as the Film Department already run on tight budgets.
“Our film department at UWM is all right, but we could definitely use some more funding,” Schmitt said.
While the two-year tuition freeze will bring relief to some students, an increase in tuition for nonresident and graduate students as well as a 3.9 percent increase in segregated fees is worrisome.
Mike Sportiello, UWM’s student body president, voiced his concerns about the overall cuts.
“The student body at UWM and students throughout the UW System will be affected in a very serious way by these cuts,” Sportiello said.
“As is true for any company or institution, a cut of this size pushes one’s university to seriously reconsider what we must determine as essential.”
“UWM will still provide a top-tier education, but the support services and overall research impact will be seriously dampened by these cuts.”
In April, UWM officials announced a buyout program to help offset the budget cuts.
Other moves to downsize could include changes to academic programs.
The Board of Regents will vote on the annual UW System budget on Thursday.
The Wisconsin State Assembly and the Senate will then have to agree on the biennial budget and forward it to Governor Scott Walker for his signature.
The $250 million budget cut to the UW System is scaled back from the original $300 million Governor Walker proposed in January.