This story is cross-published with the UWM Post. You can listen to Chancellor Mone’s Q and A with the Milwaukee Press Club below. Audio by Jordyn Noennig.
UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone again suggested consolidating with other campuses as an option for slimming the UW System budget, but this time he said academic programs from different campuses could also merge, in addition to Human Resource departments.
During a Milwaukee Press Club luncheon featuring the chancellor Wednesday, Mone said that he is delighted to see others think proactively about the idea of collaboration. Earlier this week, he revealed to the UWM campus that UWM and four other area campuses are considering merging their Human Resources Departments. On Wednesday, for the first time, he said there are talks about consolidating academic programs as the UW System grapples with the governor’s $300 million proposed budget cuts.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Mone said of consolidation talk.
Although some programs might merge, there are key projects at UW-Milwaukee that Mone vowed to protect. The chancellor said that the campus cannot afford to lose funding for building projects such as the Northwest Quadrant, Innovation campus, and the basketball practice facility.
“They are so pivotal to our progress and in the areas,” Mone said, assuring the audience that they would not be stopped by the budget issues.
As for collaboration, Mone said there are challenges to it because of the tuition money each university gets for credits taken there. He suggested making it easier to transfer credits from other UW schools, which would consequently give less money to the university a person graduates from if they had not taken their prerequisite credits there.
“I think we have to punch through that, and find ways to collaborate for efficiencies and effectiveness,” Mone said. “I’m starting to see some great signs. We’re trying to nurture and encourage that.”
Mone said that in two weeks he is meeting with the provost and regents to further the talk about merging academic programs with other UW colleges. He said that both two-year and four-year colleges would be part of that conversation.
He also said that he thinks collaboration in the ‘back of the house’ functions will be one of the biggest points of saving.
“(This) will save, in our opinion, some of the most significant funds,” Mone said. “Those we’re eagerly pursuing.”
He said that the challenge comes from little time to come to an agreement among campuses.
“We have to find $24 million now, by June 1,” Mone said.
He said that if the cut for UW-Milwaukee stays at the planned $24 million, the university would lose 200-300 positions between the retirement incentive package and natural turnover.
The chancellor also talked about UW-Milwaukee’s new partnership with Bradley Tech high school, which helps with math and science instruction for the teenage students. He said that the program will be funded through current resources but could expand past those in the future.
“We are assembling teams that are looking at areas that are looking at what we can do with existing resources, and then separate columns of what could we do if we had additional resources and then you can imagine the next column is ‘so where are we going to get those?'” Mone said.
He said that the program is an important pipeline for the Bradley Tech students to get to college, whether or not they go to UWM.