From the Chancellor: Holiday Week Message
Nov. 25, 2013
Dear UWM Colleagues,
As we head into this week’s holiday, I’d like to offer a few updates about issues of importance to campus. The first item is a recent report issued on Nov. 15 by Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau entitled “Level of Commitment for University of Wisconsin System Program Revenue Balances.” The report was created in response to concerns expressed earlier this year by legislators about the size and scope of UW System program revenue balances.
As many of you may recall, on April 24 I sent out a message to campus that stated, “I want to make it clear that at UWM we do NOT have a large, uncommitted cash balance—what the media has called a “surplus” and what is often referred to internally at UWM as a “carry-forward” balance. Rather, we have invested our current cash balances into strategic priorities that we have openly discussed and made transparent to our campus constituents, the public and the State of Wisconsin.”
I am pleased to inform you that the Nov. 15 Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) report verifies what I stated last April. In its report, the LAB reviewed the $88.6 million that was determined to be in UWM program revenue balances. Of that total, the LAB confirmed that 90 percent ($79.9 million) of the funds were obligated, planned, or designated for specific purposes. Seven percent of the total, or $6.2 million, was categorized as having “undocumented” plans, but the entirety of these funds were comprised of federal indirect cost reimbursements being maintained by schools, colleges, departments, and researchers to support research activities. Finally, the LAB found that less than 3 percent of the UWM balances, or $2.5 million, was being held by our university as true cash reserves. This amount can be put into context when one considers that the campus’ overall operating budget is more than $700 million.
If anyone asks you about UWM’s program revenue balances – or what some individuals incorrectly referred to as surplus dollars or, worse, a slush fund – please tell them that the LAB has confirmed that all UWM dollars have been accounted for and are being invested into the future operations of our university.
A second item that I would like to update you on relates to proactively addressing our decreasing enrollments. At my plenary address in September, several faculty and staff asked what they could do to help recruit students to UWM. To this end, I’d like to alert you to a new brochure to help with recruiting called “Sharing the UWM Story”. The brochure has a wide variety of fun facts and figures about what’s going on at our university. Along with being a good student recruitment tool, it’s also a way to update others about how UWM has developed and grown in recent years. Watch for a printed copy of the brochure in your campus mail this week. If you’d like additional copies to share with prospective students and their families, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, 414-229-2222.
Finally, I want you all to know how thankful I am for the extraordinary effort that you put in every day to educate the future leaders of our state and country. I remain amazed at what you accomplish with minimal resources, and I continue to publicly state that you are the most innovative and entrepreneurial faculty and staff that I have ever worked with. I’m particularly thankful for the work that hundreds of you are performing to define our future through academic planning, strategic planning, the new budget model, or making UWM the best place to work. For all that you do to make UWM a great university, I wish you a happy and well-deserved Thanksgiving holiday.
Michael R. Lovell