The Academic Planning and Budget Committee is considering a redistribution of resources that will add millions of dollars to the Provost to help programs just starting out gain funding.
“UW-Milwaukee is like a sinking ship. Certain parts of the university are underwater while others are doing well. We cannot let one department go down,” Provost Johannes Britz said. “We have a crises financially but I’m not giving up, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
At a recent meeting, the committee also raised concerns about declining enrollment and a lack of funding for research.
“The reason the Provost’s budget will increase is so that he can distribute the money more equally across all the UW-Milwaukee programs,” said Swarnjit Arora the Academic Planning and Budget Committee chairman and a teacher of economics. “There are certain programs like the freshwater sciences that are just starting out and is difficult for them to gain funding and sustain revenue. So to redistribute the budget it will help them to build up their program.”
Over the next four years the committee is expecting the enrollment at UW-Milwaukee to decline. Which would have a large effect on the budget’s tuition revenue. “The College of Letters and Sciences has gone down more than anyone while the medical school has gone up,” Arora said. “Different colleges can expect different enrollment numbers, it’s purely projecting.”
Britz understands that there are a lot of questions when it comes to UW-Milwaukee’s budget but stresses the importance of working together to fix it.
Another reason the budget for the Provost will go up is so that it can be given back to help departments with their research. “The research that is done at UW-Milwaukee is very important and we need to make sure that they are able to sustain it,” Arora said.
The issue with the amount of money there is for research stems from the low totals of sponsored funding, which is currently at $24 million. Sponsored funding comes from grants that are requested by a department and are disbursed by that party to help aid in their research.
“Right now our sponsored funding is very low,” Arora said. “Compared to other UW colleges we are not where we should be.”
The reason behind this is the lack of motivation for faculty members to ask for one. “There really is no incentive for teachers to ask for grants,” said Enrique Figueroa, a member of the Academic Planning and Budget Committee and Director of the Roberto Hernandez Center. “There needs to be more incentive otherwise this will continue to be a problem.”
According to a Budget and Institutional Analysis from UC-Davis used by the committee, there are guiding principles for those seeking grants. A few of those include being transparent, linking authority with accountability. Another principle is to provide mechanisms for investments in fresh ideas at all levels.
The proposed increase in the Provost budget will go up from $9.9 million to $46.14 million. While the School and Colleges budget will decrease from $253.16 million to $225.72 million.
“We feel that if the Provost has more resources it will give the school more flexibility with its budget,” Arora said.