A couple of lawmakers want to shield the UW-Extension and two-year campuses from the proposed $300 million cuts to the University of Wisconsin System, as proposed in the state budget. However, System President Ray Cross said none should be exempt, otherwise all campuses would want the same deal. “I appreciate that,” he said, “however I don’t believe that’s the right solution.”
Cross explained, “Why wouldn’t Parkside or why wouldn’t Superior … why wouldn’t other legislators say well we don’t want to harm our campuses either?” Cross said he and the Board of Regents will work with chancellors to “mitigate” any serious damage to those campuses.
Supporters say it’s about equity. Cathy Sandeen is the chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension. “I’m hoping that we can figure out a way where the Board of Regents and the UW System recognizes that different institutions are disproportionately harmed by this proposed budget cut and they will think about ways that they might be able to help us internally.”
Sandeen, who was just recently inaugurated, acknowledged the benefit of being a part of the UW system. She also expressed gratitude to Representatives Romaine Quinn and Ed Brooks for bringing the funding issue to the forefront. She said those lawmakers recognize that the two-year campuses and UW extension are already frugal and efficient with their resources.
As proposed in the 2015-2017 state budget, the two-year colleges would face $6.5 million in cuts; the UW Extension would be cut by $7 million. “It’s the responsible thing to plan for what might happen and we do have our plans in place,” she says.
AUDIO: (:68) Sandeen said they are focusing on finding savings on the administrative side.
She explained funding cuts would result in consolidations on the administrative side. “So the one thing that we want to make sure that we preserve as much as possible is the academic components of our program,” she said, “We want to preserve our students’ ability to complete their degrees and transfer on time.”
AUDIO: (:38) Cross said the brick and mortar campuses aren’t going anywhere.
Cross believes all campuses will continue to have a physical presence, regardless of budget cuts; though, they may be managed and operated differently along with more collaboration.
Higher than projected state revenue could reduce the amount of funding cuts to the entire UW system. Governor Scott Walker’s version of the state budget includes significant reductions to the the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. The Joint Finance Committee isn’t expected to address the UW portion of the budget for several weeks.