MADISON — The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents voted Friday (March 8) to suspend any further undergraduate admissions at all 26 campuses, pending additional information on proposed cuts to the UW budget.
The suspension on undergraduate admissions starts Saturday, March 9, until further notice. Applicants who already have been notified by campuses that they are admitted for Fall 2002 are not affected by this decision.
Regent President Jay L. Smith told the board he hoped the suspension on admissions “is a temporary one and can be lifted in the near future.” The board directed UW System President Katharine Lyall and UW chancellors to act “as soon as possible” to determine the full impact of the budget cuts on the campuses.
“We realize the impact this has on the lives of our applicants and their families, and we apologize for the inconvenience,” Smith said. “But we have no other choice.”
The UW System is facing a $51 million cut in Gov. Scott McCallum’s budget reform bill. The Joint Finance Committee this week added approximately $20 million more in cuts on top of the governor’s proposal, through reductions to the university’s base budget and a cap on tuition increases of 8 percent.
Smith said the additional cuts also put in jeopardy approximately $58 million in matching money pledged by private donors and businesses for programs that are part of the Regents’ Economic Stimulus Package.
At Thursday’s Regents meeting, Smith indicated that the board was considering a suspension on any further undergraduate admissions because of the current budget situation, which he said put the UW System “in a difficult and complex position.”
“Over the past 24 hours, we have consulted with the Regents and the Chancellors, and we feel that our budget situation is too uncertain at this time to insure that we can accommodate all the students who want to enroll in the UW System next fall,” Smith said.
The admissions process varies by campus, and some UW institutions are farther along in that process than others. Nevertheless, the decision affects applicants on every campus.
At the meeting this morning, several regents mentioned that the decision to suspend undergraduate admissions was a regrettable but necessary one for the UW System and for students and their parents.
“The action that we are taking today is a sad one, but I support it,” said Regent James Klauser. “This is a serious situation, one that we cannot take lightly,” added Regent Roger Axtell. “I feel strongly that it would be irresponsible for us to continue admitting students right now.”
UW System President Katharine Lyall said that admissions decisions in the past have been deferred to future semesters because of budget uncertainty. “This is not totally unprecedented, but we have never done it this way,” she said.
Lyall said the decision was important so the UW System can take the time needed to study the impact of budget cuts and how they will affect each campus.
“We have a very important obligation to our current and admitted students to provide the courses they need, to make it possible for them to graduate in a timely fashion, to ensure they can access the library services they need and participate in the laboratory experiments they need for their degrees,” she said.
Smith said the impact of the budget situation must be more fully understood before campuses can resume sending out admissions letters.
“We must operate like a business,” he said. “We can’t enroll students if we don’t have the GPR (state resources) to pay for them. As Regents, it is our ultimate responsibility to maintain the integrity and quality of the UW System.”
Read the complete text of Regent President Smith’s remarks: