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Budget reduction will lead to less business services

February 7, 2014

UW-River Falls faces a base budget reduction of $1.7 million for the academic year 2014-2015 (FY15) and administrators are making strategic reductions to lessen impact on students.

“The budget reductions we are experiencing are impacting all of the University of Wisconsin System campuses, and it is not possible to reduce $1.7 million from our base budget without impacting students in some way,” said Chancellor Dean Van Galen.

However, Van Galen said that student learning is the most important; therefore, the budget reductions for the academic colleges is 2 percent, while reductions in areas of UWRF is much higher. For example, the business and finance area faces a reduction of 8.1 percent.

Assistant Chancellor for Business and Finance Elizabeth Frueh agreed that reductions are being made with students in mind.

“We still strive to have quality education,” Frueh said. “The budget cut is significant, but it’s not going to us from delivering quality education.”

Frueh said that there were several changes made in different divisions to encompass the budget cut. Several divisions were able to transfer positions or supplies and expense from one revenue source to another, and there is a reduction in supplies and expense in some divisions.

“They’re just going to do with less,” Frueh said.

Some positions within UWRF have been eliminated. Frueh said that maybe half a dozen positions, some administrative and some faculty, will not be filled for FY15. She said that the reduced faculty could show up as a larger class size or a class being offered less frequently.

Both Frueh and Van Galen said that business services will be reduced, such as facilities and technology services. One solution for the budget cut is recruitment and retention, which Frueh said is a major focus of UWRF.

“We are really focusing on recruitment and retention,” Frueh said. “Additional students bring additional new funding and retaining the students we have increases our funding.”

On top of the base budget cut, UWRF is currently in a tuition freeze as well as a differential tuition freeze. Therefore, the budget cut cannot be battled with any sort of tuition increase, which is raised at the UW-System level.

“Typically in the past when we have had base reductions, we have had tuition increases to try to offset that reduction,” Frueh said. “So if there would not have been a tuition freeze I think there would have been several people arguing for a modest tuition increase.”

The Falcon Promise differential tuition, which is also in a freeze, cannot be raised from $130 per student to $160 as originally planned, so some improvements planned for FY15 will not be able to be completed. These improvements include increasing the amount of tutoring available on campus and modernizing classroom equipment.

“All of it affects the student, in one way or another,” Frueh said.

The $1.7 million budget cut will continue through academic year 2015-2016 (FY16) because it is a biennial budget. Van Galen said that he does not anticipate any additional base budget cuts at this time.