The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is expecting a 2.4 percent decline in enrollment this fall, in part driven by a drop in international students, Chancellor Mark Mone said in his fall plenary address on Thursday.
This decline comes due to prior year enrollments and the changing dynamics of the United States, however Mone says there are “bright spots.” He also expressed optimism over the upcoming budget for UW-Milwaukee, something that has been a rare sentiment the past few years on campus.
“This is the best budget for the UW system in more than a decade,” said Mone.
The university’s stance on DACA, a pay plan for faculty, as well as faculty search and screen committees were also discussed.
As for the bright spots despite dropping enrollment, the preliminary numbers say that UWM’s growth in freshmen is at 3.8 percent, and there has been an increase in underrepresented students at 4.5 percent. There has been nearly a 10-percent increase in new master’s students as well.
However, there has been a slight decrease in international students at 2.9 percent. This decrease does not account for the whole of UWM’s declining enrollment.
Mone credits this decline to the executive orders on immigration and travel bans that have been put in place in the last six to eight months by President Donald Trump. Mone noted that other educational institutions have seen a much larger decline in their international student enrollment.
“For us to only have dropped this much is actually a win,” said Mone. “So again, it’s that broader context.”
Michael Newman, a member of the Faculty Senate, a professor, and chairman of the Department of Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies, finds the enrollment decline concerning as it relates to budget as a whole.
“Enrollment is where the money is, and you need money to do anything,” Newman said.
Mone addressed much of what was going on in the broader context in areas other than enrollment, a lot of which had to do with student life.
The chancellor spoke adamantly about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) saying that “we wholly support all our Dreamers.” He said he has written to Trump and talked to legislators, all while reinforcing the campus resources that are available to students and their families.
The ongoing changes to Title IX at a national level were addressed by the chancellor during his speech as well. His comments were similar to ones he made in a campus-wide email that was sent out Thursday morning.
Title IX is a law that requires gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that is federally funded. It also requires colleges to receive federal funding to combat gender-based violence and harassment, as well as respond to survivors’ needs.
Currently, U.S. Secretary of Education is planning on rolling back Title IX, but with nothing planned to take its place.
Newman acknowledged that Title IX is complicated.
“I hope that Title IX will be enforced in a way that protects women on campus from harassment, assault, and discrimination without creating a climate that chills academic freedom and without denial of due process to students accused of misconduct, which creates a system ripe for abuse,” Newman said in an email.
Mone also emphasized that UWM is a welcoming place for LGBTQ students, following executive actions against transgender people in the last year.
It was announced that UWM was named in the “Top 25 LGBTQ Friendly Colleges and Universities” by Campus Pride. The chancellor’s “Made in Milwaukee” $200 million campaign was also a focus during his speech.
This announcement follows controversy last year when speaker Milo Yiannopoulos spoke on campus and targeted a transgender student, along with the controversy over university policies regarding use of locker rooms based on gender identity.
“This campus has a long history of supporting advocacy,” said Mone.
Mone thanked faculty and staff, many of whom were in attendance, for their continued support of students at trying times like these.
Mone also announced a pay plan for faculty along with the 2017-19 state budget, which he sees as favorable overall.
The plan will be done in two stages, two percent by July 2018 and another two percent by January 2019.
The plan will be determined by merit. This is the first merit-based pay increase in 11 years.
“Any pay plan is better than no pay plan,” said Newman.
“But this pay plan is not generous enough to address critical issues of salary compression and under-compensation. The UW system is losing high quality employees who leave to take jobs elsewhere that pay better.”
Newman added that morale among employees is affected by this issue.
Newman also said that pay increase according to merit will be difficult and that “surely just about everyone is deserving of the modest increases in this pay plan.”
The Faculty Senate, in a meeting following Chancellor Mone’s plenary, discussed president and chancellor search and screen committees. Search and screen committees are created to ensure that whomever is hired to run an academic institution is qualified to do so.
The goal of a search and screen committee is to ensure that local stakeholders have equal representation alongside members of the University Of Wisconsin System Board Of Regents when finding new chancellors or presidents when the need arises.
“New legislation will pave the way to hiring chancellors from outside of academia, who lack academic training, credentials, and experience,” said Newman.
Ensuring that there be fair representation of university faculty and other stakeholders is critical to the Faculty Senate to make it less likely that the Board of Regents would be able to impose an unworthy candidate.
The Faculty modified their original proposal from 10 total members on the search team, to 15. The 15 would be comprised of five Regents, five Faculty members, two Staff members, one Dean, one Community member, and one Student. This committee applies to UWM specifically.
Aneesh Aneesh, a member of the Faculty Senate and Professor of Sociology, sees how important running an institution organically can be.
“To come back to the search and screen committee issue, the state leadership and regents want to start appointing non-academics to run universities in the Wisconsin system,” said Aneesh.
“I think it will have unintended consequences. Top universities of the world are run by academics who organically understand the priorities of higher education.”
The next Faculty Senate meeting is scheduled for the third Thursday in October.