The University of Wisconsin–Stout is a fully-funded four year university in the state of Wisconsin. However, it came as quite a surprise to some students when they were informed that the school has just under 100 million dollars’ worth of back maintenance according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
When asked what she thought about the school having such a sum of maintenance requests currently unfunded, Abby, a sophomore at Stout said, “That’s a lot of money; there are some weird things here or there, but the school seems like it’s in good shape.”
The truth is the school will use the meager funds they do receive for the most critical maintenance, but funding for something like the recent renovations to the Price Commons at Stout will be coming from student fees. The recent cuts from the UW System’s operating budget have the potential to increase the amount of maintenance and other related renovations that will also need to be financed by student funds.
The specific reason why these types of renovations are being made through student funds is due to the $100 million cut from state funding. In previous years, these funds had been used for maintenance, repairs and renovations to campus buildings and utilities. It was discovered that the university had been carrying over funds year by year to build, but legislators deemed the amount to be too large of a cushion for emergency situations, and have since instructed universities to spend the money they already have.
The other problem schools in the UW System are facing, on top of having a difficult time finding a way to fund projects, is how maintenance and renovations are being handled. Currently, any changes to a building of a state agency, including the UW System, must be managed by the Department of Administration.
The Department of Administration has been criticized for delaying projects unnecessarily. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, UW System Regent Margaret Farrow, who also used to serve as a Republican state senator, said this of the DOA: “They delay things unnecessarily. It’s a matter of priorities.”
A solution may come next year as the UW System is going before the state legislators to ask for construction authority. Because most buildings on campus were built in the no-longer-recent past, maintenance and renovations are going to be necessary; yet when funds are hard to come by, students may end up covering the difference.