UWM Chancellor Mark Mone announced a series of cost containment measures relating to travel and hiring Tuesday to help reduce the impact of potential future cuts in the governor’s budget proposal.
As a first step, a few measures will be executed instantaneously, Mone said.
The first step will be to put a hold on hiring of what Mone termed all non-essential positions, except those extramurally funded through grants or contracts. The second measure is to put a hold on non-essential, out-of-state travel, except out-of-state travel directly related to research or academic activities. Finally, a hold will be put on non-essential and discretionary salary adjustments.
In order to advocate for UWM, the chancellor says the school has already sent out over 52,000 messages starting over the weekend. An email addressing the proposal went out to UWM Alumni, Panther families, donors and friends of UWM. Mone made the cost-containment announcements at an all-campus budget meeting and in a campus-wide email
The budget cut would be effective July 1, however any restructuring through a separate Public Authority proposal of the governor’s wouldn’t begin until 2016, said Mone. Mone says the cuts are immediate, but the proposed Public Authority would take some time to put the restricting in place. Both the governor’s budget cuts and Public Authority proposal would need Legislative approval.
Budget cuts of this magnitude could cause the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to face unprecedented challenges, Mone said.
“Anything that we can do now to put a hold on some of the commitments going forward around non-essential types of things will help us weather a $20 million cut,” said Mone. The UWM could face another $20 million cut the second year of the biennial state budget.
The chancellor made clear that these cost containments will not incorporate a hiring freeze but instead implement a hold on a number of things. These holds will prepare UWM for the potentially large budget reduction as quickly as possible.
Each university within the UW System could be facing very similar challenges. UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank spoke about the governor’s proposed cuts at a meeting Thursday of the Board of Regents.
“Never has higher education been more important to the young people around the state,” Blank said, at the conclusion of her speech. “These cuts are too large. They are too large for the state. They are too large for the university.” The UWM chancellor addressed the second quote in his speech.
Mone mentioned in his own discussion that he found Blank’s words very compelling.
“I will continue to fiercely advocate for UWM and even more broadly for the UW System,” said Mone.
Mone’s also mentioned the assembling of a budget reduction task force. The task force will be co-chaired by Provost Johannes Britz and Vice Chancellor Robin Van Harpen to co-chair.
According to Mone, the task force will include members of campus leadership and governance groups. This task force will help determine how to respond to the predicted cuts and strategically realign the school’s resources and programs.
Tom Luljak, Vice Chancellor of University Relations and Communications and member of the task force, also addressed the crowd. He said the task force advocates for the entire UWM community.
According to Luljak, the task force is currently operating to target state legislators, media, community leaders and UWM stakeholders.
He says they will be using wide channels, and communication will continue for many months. He says social media will also play a critical role in the task force.
Starting next week, e-newsletters put together by university relations will be sent out on a weekly basis. These newsletters will be a collection of stories about the impact UWM makes within the community.
“We are all true believers. Everyone here understands the value of UWM, but we know outside these walls sometimes there’s a fuzziness; people don’ t necessarily appreciate the depth in which we touch the lives of people here in Wisconsin,” said Luljak.
Luljak believes this letter is an excellent tool to promote the university while informing the community. He says it will be a great resource that can aid everyone in better understanding just how damaging these budget cuts could be to the university.