Findings from the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents’ study of the university’s future will help shape the university’s 2005-07 state budget request, which must be submitted to the state in just six months, UW System president Katharine C. Lyall said Friday (Feb. 6.)
During the second day of the Board of Regents’ February meeting, Lyall outlined the steps the university must take to formulate the request, as well as areas of university operations that deserve priority funding.
Lyall said students were adversely affected by tuition increases and budget cuts in the last two-year budget cycle, but that should change now that state and national economies are slowly beginning to improve.
“It is not unreasonable to advocate for some restoration of these sacrifices as times get better,” Lyall said. “Indeed, it is essential if we are to continue to provide educational opportunities for all those who need and deserve the services of the UW System.”
Some recommendations from the study, “Charting a New Course for the UW System,” would allow the university to generate new revenue, streamline costs and reallocate savings to provide access and protect quality at all UW institutions, Lyall said. Other efforts, such as restoring financial aid and faculty positions, will require “judicious state reinvestment” to properly meet the state’s needs, she said.
The board is scheduled to consider a budget request in August. State statutes require the UW System to submit its 2005-07 budget request to the state Department of Administration in September.
United Council presents student budget priorities
Students hope the UW System’s budget request will include measures to rebuild the university’s capacity and quality, members of United Council of UW Students said during a presentation on Friday.
The United Council presentation, titled “Building the Wisconsin Ideal: $9 at a time,” outlines student priorities from across the UW System, including those related to tuition, financial aid, libraries, faculty, classroom instruction, and student services. Lyall said it is customary for the regents to begin preparing for a budget request by hearing from student representatives.
The title of the presentation references the UW System’s economic impact on the state, said Stephanie Hilton, United Council academic affairs director. Recent studies have shown that the UW System’s activities generate $9 for every state dollar invested in the university.
Competitive compensation for faculty and staff, including domestic partner benefits; a reinvestment in tenure-track faculty; and more course offerings would all contribute toward rebuilding quality in the classroom, said UW-Milwaukee student Ellen Semran.
UW-Baraboo/Sauk County student Jeremiah Timm said increasing numbers of students are no longer able to afford to pay tuition without working full-time during school. He noted that students graduated with an average debt load of more than $16,000 in 2002-03. The actual average debt load for a UW resident undergraduate last year was $16,523.
Timm said recent tuition increases are especially difficult for lower-income and first-generation college students in Wisconsin.
“The tuition increases are hitting people who need these opportunities the most,” he said.
UW-Green Bay senior Megan Habermann said dramatic increases in nonresident tuition are making students like her an “endangered species.” A native of Portland, Ore., Habermann said tuition has increased $7,000 since her freshman year, an amount equal to an entire year of in-state tuition and housing costs. Nonresident students should not be penalized by disproportionate tuition and fee increases, she said.
“By continuing to increase nonresident tuition at such an incredible rate, the state will not only lose money for each campus, but it will deny all students a unique and valuable UW experience,” she said.
Students also urged the board to consider budget items that would cover costs related to the Student Exchange and Visitor Information System, known as SEVIS; student support services; advising; and the UW System’s blueprint for enhancing diversity, called Plan 2008.
Regent Vice President David Walsh of Madison said he was struck by Timm’s testimony on how much financial aid assists students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to go to college. He reminded the board of the importance of restoring state financial aid funding levels, which were paid for out of UW System student auxiliary funds set aside for projects such as new student unions and other building projects.
Walsh reminded the board of recent comments by UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley, who stresses that creative minds are not limited by family income, race and ethnicity or other factors.
“We are going to lose creative minds in this state if we do not address this challenge,” Walsh said. “It may be our biggest challenge.”
Regents hear “Charting” study update
A presentation to the board on Thursday provided insight into what kinds of recommendations from the “Charting a New Course” study might be most effective, said study chair Regent Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids.
The presentation, by Alan E. Guskin, a former UW-Parkside chancellor and now co-director and senior scholar for the Project on the Future of Higher Education, told the board that sharp cutbacks in state funding for public higher education in Wisconsin and nationally must be considered a long-term problem requiring long-term solutions.
“I can’t wait for the ideas that are bound to spin off,” Gottschalk said.
Gottschalk also said this week’s announcement that President Lyall will retire at the end of the academic year adds another dimension to the regents’ study of the university’s future.
“It will also serve as a blueprint as we grapple with finding the best leadership we can,” he said.
In other business Friday, the regents also passed resolutions to:
- Rename the College of Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Teacher Education at UW-La Crosse to the College of Education, Exercise Science, Health and Recreation;
- Increase the mandatory refundable fee students pay to support the United Council of UW Students from $1.35 per student to $2;
- Construct a $40 million addition to Grainger Hall and a Dayton Street Housing project estimated at $34.9 million;
- Authorize $28.4 million for a UW-River Falls student union;
- Construct a parking ramp (Lot 76) on the UW-Madison campus;
- Lease the UW Medical School Department of Physiology;
- Construct a new veterinary diagnostic lab at UW-Madison;
- Improve construction for central campus utilities at UW-Madison;
- Repeal restrictions requiring UW System review and approval of buildings in the Hilldale area of Madison.
During the regents’ closed session Friday, the board delegated the authority to choose a presidential search consultant to Regent President Toby Marcovich of Superior. No decision has been made yet on a consultant who could assist the UW System in its search for a successor to President Lyall.
The Board of Regents will hold its next meeting March 4 and 5, 2004, in Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.