Blank: On the end of the academic year and a way forward

In a recent post on her blog, Chancellor Blank addressed recent discourse around UW-Madison and UW System, along with ways the university can work with the state to move both forward. Related: View the UW-Madison Budget in Brief document (PDF).

UW–Madison, UW System schools detail budget cut impacts

In a summary on budget impacts submitted to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, UW–Madison reported that a 10.6 percent reduction in state support in the current fiscal year has created an $86 million budget deficit.

To close the budget gap, UW–Madison has cut or redirected spending by $50 million over the next two years. The rest of the deficit will be filled by tuition increases to non-resident students.

Impacts of the cuts include:

  • In the largest college, Letters & Science, all general fund hiring was frozen this year. L&S ultimately will cut 48 faculty and 44 staff positions. With these losses, departments are reducing the number of courses offered, increasing class sizes or substituting staff for faculty instructors.
  • During the 2015-17 biennium, we expect to lose 418 faculty and staff positions through layoffs or attrition.
  • In the Office of Undergraduate Advising, cuts will impact the ability to work with students, potentially increasing time to graduation for more students. The College of Engineering has halted a planned expansion of advisors. The College currently has 17 advisors to serve 6,600 students – at least five advisors below the minimum needed to serve students effectively.
  • Student employment positions have been drastically reduced across campus. For example, Human Resources cut more than 6,500 hours of student employment. Research and Sponsored Programs cut about 6,300 hours of student employment. Not only do these reductions decrease the level of service, but they also reduce learning opportunities and financial support for students.
  • The university are unable to expand enrollments in areas of increased student demand in important areas such as Business, Engineering and Nursing because of the budget cuts.
  • The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) reports an array of service reductions to students in 2015-16. Labs are updated less frequently as a result of computer lab support reductions. Due to a digital media lab closing, students now must pay for these services elsewhere. In addition, early-morning and late-night help desk hours for students were reduced.

Go here to view the full UW–Madison summary and the summaries from other System school.


Information on UW-Madison program revenue fund balances


Tuition balances carried over from prior fiscal years have been reduced by more than 50% – from $143M in FY13 to $71.1M in FY15.

This represents a decrease from a 16% carryover at the end of FY 2013 to 7.3% at the end of FY 2015, well below the 12% threshold established by new Board of Regents and legislative policies.
All but $3.8M of the carryover from FY15 is already obligated or planned for various university programs.


Overall PR balances have decreased by 10% over the same period.

81% of carryover balances are obligated or planned for expenses the campus will incur in FY16. Another 4.8% has been designated for specific uses.
Of the $52.2M among ALL funds classified as reserves, 93% are federal dollars essential to the research enterprise, especially at a time when federal research funding is declining. Only $3.8M is available for other uses.
Our balances are well below those of peer institutions, including Big 10 peers.
There are no state tax dollars in any of these funds.


The campus has instituted a new system of quarterly reporting of balances – the only campus in the UW System with such a reporting method. Campus units are reporting balances in a number of categories, including tuition, general operations and auxiliary operations so that we can monitor balances and make adjustments on a real time basis.

If we exceed balances of 12% in any of these areas, we will provide detailed explanations of how we intend to use these funds.


Detailed Information by Fund Type:


The tuition balance was reduced from $143M in FY13 to $71.1M in FY 15 – a decrease of $71.9M. This is a decrease from 16% to 7% in carryover.
Of the $71.1M carried over from FY15, $67.3M is either obligated or planned for expenses the campus will incur in FY16. Only $3.8M is a true reserve. The reserve will be utilized this year as we experienced a modest decline in our enrollment.

Read more

Blank: Moving Forward

Chancellor Blank posted the following blog entry on “Blank’s Slate.”

Gov. Scott Walker on Sunday, July 12, signed the bill that lays out the state of Wisconsin’s spending plan for the next two years. I know that over the last six months, members of the campus community, as well as our alumni and friends, have followed this process closely, and many are as disappointed with some of the outcomes as I am. But we also have some wins in this budget. Let me summarize some of the main points in the budget that will affect UW-Madison and talk about how we move forward. Read the full entry.


Governor lets tenure move stand; vetoes changes to student fees, academic staff appointments

Gov. Scott Walker issued his budget message Monday, including vetoes to some provisions affecting UW-Madison and the UW System. Walker let stand changes that remove tenure from state statute and place it in Board of Regents policy.

Among the items he vetoed were provisions to:

  • Make the use of student fees subject to the approval of the chancellor. Walker said students should decide how to spend fees they pay that support student activities. As a result of this veto, students will continue to make such decisions in consultation with the chancellor, subject to the final confirmation of the Board of Regents.
  • Allow the UW System to develop its own procurement policies. Walker said the change might result in unintended consequences and instead directed the Department of Administration to work with the Regents and UW-Madison to develop a framework that provides more flexibility in purchasing while maintaining the state’s buying power.
  • Prohibit probationary or indefinite academic staff appointments. Walker said he opposes such changes without further study of possible unintended consequences, particularly at UW-Madison, where some clinical faculty hold such appointments.
  • Alter the makeup of the Group Insurance Board and make its proposed changes subject to the approval of the Joint Committee on Employee Relations. Walker said that he supports the current composition of the board and that the committee already has a substantial role in reviewing the compensation plan for state employees.

Blank seeks vetoes on tenure, shared governance and indefinite academic staff appointments

Chancellor Rebecca Blank today sent two letters to Gov. Scott Walker requesting vetoes of provisions in the 2015-17 state budget.

The first letter, regarding changes tenure and shared governance at UW System schools, can be read here.

Blank’s second letter, regarding language that would prohibit the Board of Regents from making a probationary or indefinite academic staff appointment, can be read here.

Specifically, Blank has asked for vetoes to Sections 1139-1142 of Senate Bill 21 and 1210M and 1214R of Senate Substitute Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 21, respectively.

Walker is expected to sign the budget in the next few days.

State budget passes Assembly, awaits Walker signature

The Assembly passed a state budget early Thursday morning by a vote of 52-46. The spending plan contains $250 million in cuts to UW System, among other provisions. It next heads to Governor Scott Walker for his signature.

Budget passes Senate, heads to Assembly

The Wisconsin Senate passed the state budget late Tuesday on a 18-15 vote.  An amendment by Senator Fred Risser to restore $250 million in funding to UW System failed.

The budget next heads to the Assembly on Wednesday, where it is scheduled to be taken up after 11:30 a.m. and voted on late in the evening. Live coverage is available on Wisconsin Eye.

Blank reacts to Joint Finance Committee wrap-up

Chancellor Rebecca Blank issued a statement Friday in response to Thursday’s final meeting of the Joint Committee on Finance. The 2015-17 state budget next goes to the full Assembly and Senate.

“I am disappointed that the budget proposal coming out of the Joint Committee on Finance does not eliminate or modify the language around faculty dismissals to align with the standards of our peer institutions and the American Association of University Professors.

“As with any university, our reputation depends on the quality of our faculty. Unfortunately, the inclusion of this language has created negative national publicity that will hinder the ability of UW–Madison to attract and retain the best faculty and staff.

“While I appreciate the actions that the committee took to support the university – in particular reducing the size of the UW System budget cut and providing funding for the Chemistry Building project – we will continue to talk with legislators in an attempt to have the faculty dismissal language removed or amended at the next stage of the budget process.

“Moreover, we will pursue a dialog with legislators about how state and university leaders can work together to strengthen higher education in Wisconsin. The top priority we must all share is for Wisconsin to maintain its world-class public research institution and the value it creates for taxpayers.”

Wisconsin Alumni Association supports academic freedom

Reacting to proposed language in the state budget regarding tenure, The President’s Advisory Council of the Wisconsin Alumni Association has written a resolution in support of academic freedom.

The council declared its strong support for protection of tenure and urges Gov. Walker and the legislature “to ensure that state statues and policies do not weaken the protection of academic freedom, free speech, or the continual sifting and winnowing of the truth at the University of Wisconsin.”

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