Dear Faculty, Staff, and Student Colleagues,

These are difficult economic times, and we face many challenges in our efforts to preserve broad access to a high-quality college education and continue groundbreaking research on behalf of Wisconsin citizens. I want to provide you with up-to-date information about the latest issues – new state budget reductions – and tell you what we’re doing to advocate for UW System institutions, employees, and students.

We learned on Oct. 14 that the Department of Administration (DOA) would implement a $174.3-million “lapse,” pdf  as authorized in the 2011-13 state budget. This tool allows the state to withdraw a portion of taxpayer funding already allocated to agencies. As part of that lapse, our colleges, universities, and extension networks have been asked to prepare for the loss of $65.6 million more over two years. This represents 38% of all new reductions to state spending, despite the fact that the UW System represents about 7% of the state’s expenditures. It comes on top of $250 million in cuts already imposed on the UW System in the biennial budget.

We’re working hard to shine a spotlight on this important public policy discussion. Together with the 14 UW Chancellors and the 13 UW Colleges Deans, I co-authored an editorial in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the disproportionate allocation of these new cuts.

That editorial states that “We are working to get answers to these concerns through civil and constructive dialogue. We are also reiterating the UW System’s role as an economic engine, and asking state leaders to develop a fairer plan—one that protects UW students.” To that end, we provided DOA budget staff with a detailed memo pdf  that outlines a more equitable approach.

We are doing everything we can to encourage a more proportionate lapse amount, so we can preserve the high-quality teaching, research, and outreach that people both need and expect from the UW. The lapse proposed by DOA is subject to review by the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance, so there is still time for our voices to have an impact.

Thank you for your attention to this important topic. I encourage you to work collaboratively with your shared governance groups, your chancellors, and other campus/institutional leaders to advocate for the UW System’s vital educational mission. In the midst of the economic restructuring our country faces, your work is more important than ever, and it’s worth fighting for.

Thank you.

Kevin P. Reilly