By Maria Grzywa —

No matter what, University of Wisconsin­–Stout will be affected by the proposed budget cuts in Governor Walker’s state budget address. With $300 million on the line to be cut over the next biennium, Stout is looking at significant changes in expenses, faculty and staff compensation and student program and tuition costs.

Walker’s state budget address included:

  • A proposal for the UW System to receive more autonomy from state government.
  • The creation of a University of Wisconsin System authority, an agency that would oversee things such as capital projects and staffing.
  • A $300 million cut to UW System funding for the next biennium.
  • A plan to extend the tuition freeze for another two years and introduce a freeze on course and program fees for high demand fields within the technical college walker

The proposal to make the UW System a public authority is highly accepted by system members because if power is transferred to the Board of Regents rather than to state legislature, decisions will be made with better regard to schools in the system. Stout’s Chancellor Meyer explained in a Stoutonia meeting that many members of the Board of Regents came from UW System schools and have closer connections to the system, and therefore will make decisions with regards to the people (faculty, staff, students, etc.) rather than the system.

UW System President Ray Cross’ announcement after Walker’s state address further explains the positives seen in the transfer of authority from state to public. “The UW System and its institutions will gain … important flexibilities that we have long sought,” said Cross. The flexibilities he refers to address the system’s ability to manage pricing in a way that reflects the market and actual costs, which will benefit Wisconsin students and families.

However, the public authority proposed by Walker appears to be a tradeoff for his budget cuts. Walker proposed a $150 million cut each year to the UW System budget, which will mean cuts across all areas of the system. Specifically here at Stout, we are looking at a loss of faculty and staff.

The following is an excerpt from “State Budget Effects on UW–Stout” from the Office of the Chancellor:

Record numbers of faculty and staff are leaving for higher paying positions elsewhere. 71 percent of faculty/ staff who reported that they left UW-Stout and accepted another position state that their new position pays a higher salary. In the last five years there have been 52 faculty resignations (19 percent of faculty/ staff).

According to another report, UW-Stout’s average salary for all instructional ranks is 57,114 dollars, which is nearly 25,500 dollars lower than the average salary of 82,602 dollars for the 19 institutions included in the comparison polytechnic peer group.

Following the last budget reduction, UW-Stout eliminated six positions by choosing not to fill vacancies.

Recruitment challenges: in the past four years, 20 to 30 percent (annually) of faculty and professional staff searches have failed (no offer made, cancelled, or offered and not filled).

Chancellor Meyer is making staff and faculty a priority throughout these cuts and wants to protect them as much as possible. However, after the last budget cut and giving up what Stout could lose, Stout will be forced with this new cut to get rid of compensations and positions because that is all that is left.

With the loss in state funding and a continued tuition freeze money will need to come from outside funding and reserves, which will only last the school so long. The tuition freeze will extend through the next biennium, preventing tuition from rising.

However, tuition would be the main source of revenue and compensation for faculty/ staff. So although a freeze on tuition will benefit students financially, it will most likely take a toll on the learning experience here at Stout because faculty and staff will find compensation elsewhere, leaving Stout.

Changes are coming to Stout due to Walker’s state budget address. Tell us how you feel and leave a comment on Stoutonia’s Facebook page or write a letter to the editor.

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