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UWRF finds ways to save during state-wide cuts

February 10, 2011

With Wisconsin’s state budget deficit approaching an all time high, state wide institutions are starting to feel the need to cut costs any way they can.

At the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, department chairs are being asked to cut their spending in small ways with the hope that larger spending cuts won’t be needed in the future.

Wisconsin’s budget deficit increased 8.4 percent in 2010 from the previous year, swelling to $2.71 billion from $2.5 billion, according to the Associated Press.

Although academic institutions have not been forced to endure layoffs thus far the Legislative Fiscal Bureau of Wisconsin does not show positive reinforcement with their 2011 predictions for state and local employees.

According to the Bureau, in 2010 the number of state and local government employees fell by an estimated 208,000 positions and 2011 will see another 150,000 estimated employees added to that list. 

Newly elected governor, Republican Scott Walker, has promised to spend time focusing on taking care of things that Wisconsin can afford.

His plans include creating new jobs, cutting back the $3.1 billion budget deficit and putting Wisconsin on the map when it comes to business.

Instead of having his name placed on the “Welcome to Wisconsin” signs like past governors, Walker replaced the signs with ones that simply proclaim, “Open for Business.” The governor claims that this is his attempt to show people that there are, “…going to be substantive changes to the way our state
government treats job creators,” according to a speech Walker gave at the sign unveiling in mid-January.

With the budget deficit looming on many academic institutions, some departments at UWRF are doing what they can to cut unnecessary costs in an effort to help.

One of the main things that department chairs are asking the staff in their department to do is to use Fast Copy for their classes instead of wasting department costs.

Fast Copy is an on-campus printing center that is open five days a week and available for students and faculty to use. “…for the first half of this school year (July-December), there have been about 500,000 fewer copies on the departmental machines compared to the same months last year,” said print technician Philip Olle-LaJoie.

The increase in copies saves both departments and Fast Copy money.

“Fast Copy jobs, while not perfectly comparable, had about 400,000 more copies during those same times year to year,” Olle-LaJoie said.

Many departments have found that cutting certain costs is easy when they find a way to do so. Biology department chair and Professor Mark Bergland found that outsourcing to Fast Copy has benefitted the department tremendously.

“Our department has saved considerable funds using Fast Copy instead of our departmental copier, as there is a difference of 2 cents per page,” said Bergland. “Considering how much copying is done in a large department such as ours, that adds up to a considerable savings.”

Another way that departments and the university are saving money is through the use of Desire to Learn or D2L.

The program was developed in 1999 as a tool to provide, “…innovative eLearning solutions to academic and other leading organizations around the world,” according to the program’s website. 

The use of this program helps save money in each department’s annual budget because of the lack of printing involved in classes. Instead of supplying students with handouts of the vital material to the class, professors are able to post the material to D2L.

“The main thing that we can do and are doing is to use our supplies budget wisely. We try to limit the amount of hard copy course documents used in class by posting these items on D2L,” said Darryl Miller, department chair and professor of marketing.

Professors aren’t the only ones who seem to enjoy the use of D2L although some students seem to have issues with the program as well. Many students find that the program is beneficial for their academic classes because of the availability of the program.

“I like that D2L is a great way to either study ahead or catch up on lectures. It allows us to have online classes which are very beneficial when you are taking many classes,” said sophomore Vivian Chen.

Some students find the program to be helpful but not always consistent throughout classes.

Each professor utilizes the program in their own way, some using it more than others. “I hate having to print off all my slides and syllabuses for certain classes and then some teachers don’t use it at all, kind of inconsistent,” said senior Ben Pirius.