Budget Update from UWM Chancellor Lovell
February 17, 2012
Dear Campus Community,
Wednesday the State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee approved additional cuts to the UW System budget during the fiscal year that ends June 30. This latest $46 million reduction, frequently referred to as the lapse, is in addition to the $250 million previously cut from the UW System budget for the 2011-2013 budget cycle.
Seven percent of state expenditures currently are dedicated to the UW System, but the Department of Administration and legislators have directed UW System to make up 38 percent of the overall lapse.
The UWM share of the lapse for this year is slightly more than $6.2 million. Because the lapse was first hinted at by state legislators last summer and because we already are dealing with a $34 million share of the $250 million cut, a campus team has been analyzing what steps should be taken to deal with the additional reduction in funding.
Needless to say, I was among the UW System leaders who were extremely disappointed by this news. Several UW System chancellors including myself were given the opportunity in recent weeks to address legislators about the disproportionate share of the cuts that will fall upon the UW System.
On February 8, I joined UW-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward in offering testimony to the Special Task Force on UW Restructuring and Operational Flexibilities. During the 3.5-hour session, I stressed the need for reinvestment in UWM and the rest of our higher education system. I said that our greatest challenge is maintaining and strengthening our human resources. Without adequate investment, we will lose our most valuable asset: those who educate and train our students.
I further stated that we must be granted significant operational flexibilities in areas such as purchasing, tuition, travel, human resources and our capital building programs. Such flexibilities could help us better manage state budget reductions and allow our campus to pay market-value salaries to our employees. I also supported the creation of a local board that could more deeply understand and advocate for the unique needs of our campus, but added that any new governing structure would be immaterial without additional campus management flexibilities.
Such flexibilities are especially important because of additional news this month from the state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau of worsening state financial conditions. At this point, it’s not clear how the state’s projected revenue shortfall will impact our campus.
Despite this week’s setback, I pledge to continue to make the case to legislators and all other audiences that publicly funded higher education is an investment into the future of the state of Wisconsin and not an expense.
I thank you for your patience during this difficult time for us all. I appreciate the continuing service of our faculty and staff to our students and the people of this state. I thank our students for their commitment to our university and their dedication towards finishing their education.
Michael R. Lovell