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UWRF cuts top administrator’s position

April 14, 2011

In response to Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011-13 proposed biennial budget that includes a $2.8 million reduction in state funding to UW-River Falls, the administration is forced to reduce spending in order to preserve the academic mission of UWRF, said Chancellor Dean Van Galen.

One of the ways the university is shrinking the budget is by eliminating the position of associate vice chancellor of enrollment services, currently held by Alan Tuchtenhagen.

Tuchtenhagen has worked for UWRF for 25 years and said he plans to file for an early retirement with the UW System.

Tuchtenhagen lives west of River Falls near Kinnickinnic State Park and said he will continue to look for a position in either administration or teaching.  With a master’s in American history and a doctorate in public administration, he said he would be interested in teaching history or political science.

“I love UW-River Falls and the River Falls area generally, so my initial challenge will be to find something in this area,” Tuchtenhagen said.

Tuchtenhagen’s position, along with several others in higher administration, is technically termed limited and serves strictly at the pleasure of the chancellor. According to UW System policy, the chancellor has the ability to establish and discontinue senior administrative positions. Although it is not common, a chancellor has the legal authority to eliminate several top positions within the administration.

In 2003-05 there was a similar cut in state funding to the UW System and the chancellor of UW-Superior “did away with all the deans,” and moved to a provost model that also included a dean of the faculty role, said Provost Fernando Delgado.

When Walker announced the biennial budget March 1, the UWRF administration was, and still is, faced with some difficult questions, said Delgado.

When the university is faced with that big of a cut, it becomes difficult to deal with when most of the operational budget goes into human resources, Delgado said.

According to the 2010-11 UW System data, Tuchtenhagen’s salary was $102,978.

Some of Tuchtenhagen’s job responsibilities, such as managing the people in enrollment services as well as the overseeing registrars, admissions and financial aid, will be the taken over by Delgado.

Operating within a tighter budget will also mean cuts in other areas, added Delgado.  Besides the 10 percent cut from the non-academic units, which includes Tuchtenhagen’s position, the university also cut 5 percent from the four colleges, he said.

The operational budget for the university is going to shrink by $2.05 million, with the least amount of reduction coming from the academic area, said the chancellor in an email sent to all faculty and staff.

“These budget reductions will have a smaller direct impact on the core academic mission of the university compared with other areas, wrote the chancellor.  “Almost 60 percent of reductions will be absorbed by areas other than the academic colleges.”

Because of the decrease in state funding to UWRF, Delgado projects that students will bear 40 percent of the operational cost.

In that same email, the chancellor said that although the $2.8 million is substantial, the impact on UWRF will be lessened.

“Because of the projected 5.5 percent increase in tuition for next year and our sustained enrollment growth, part of that reduction will be buffered by increased tuition revenue.”

The lack of appropriating state funding to higher education and making students pay more for tuition is part of a larger trend within the state of Wisconsin.

“Today, state funding is only enough to subsidize about 40 percent of the cost of educating each resident undergraduate student,” according to a report written by President of the Board of Regents Charles Pruitt and former Board of Regents President Jay Smith.

“As recently as 10 years ago, state taxpayers provided enough support to offset 64 percent of those costs.”

The biennial budget is still being hashed out in the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance and UW System President Kevin Reilly testified before the committee March 31.  In an email sent to all faculty and staff, Pruitt said that he stressed the challenges posed by the $340 million in reduced taxpayer support for UW institutions and employees.

When asked whether the committee will consider Reilly’s comments, Delgado said he believes the cuts to the UW System are permanent.