UW System budget proposal will have historic consequences
February 4, 2015
Gov. Scott Walker’s UW System budget proposal could have a lasting negative effect on UW-River Falls and the future of this university, and the current two-year tuition freeze isn’t doing the UW System any financial favors.
Yes, it’s nice to have the cheapest education possible, but not at the cost of UWRF staff or faculty. Without the possibility of even the smallest amount of tuition increase, the UW System yet again has to make budget cuts.
A $300 million budget cuts means the loss of a countless amount of UWRF professors and instructors. Instructors who are currently under a one-year contract heading into next fall will more than likely have to find a new job at a different university. This is not OK, and neither is asking professors to teach one more class per semester. That’s, per week, three extra hours in class and dozens of hours grading homework and exams, as well as answering emails and preparing lectures.
The emphasis in the UW System is to recruit and retain students, yet here we are, gutted by budget cuts once again. Current and future students will not want to attend a university that may cut a program and layoff a favorite professor.
In lieu of the budget proposal, there has been speculation about changing the reciprocity agreement between Wisconsin and Minnesota. While this idea does not hurt the other UW System schools as badly, it would devastate UWRF, UW-Superior, UW-La Crosse and even UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout. A large amount of students attend UWRF because of the reciprocity, the small class sizes and the unique organizations, but the reasons to attend a UW System school is diminishing by the day.
We recognize that this problem was not created by Chancellor Dean Van Galen or UW System President Ray Cross, but those who drafted the $300 million budget proposal. Van Galen was gracious enough to speak to those who wanted to listen on Feb. 2-3, in regards to the budget cuts, but morale among professors, instructors, faculty, staff, and even some students, is at an all-time low.
UW System schools clearly need to become a public authority, so each university can become self-regulated and decide its own budget. Clearly, what’s happening to the UW System is historic. Fall registration is said to be delayed a week or two because there’s some question about course availability going forward. General education classes are bound to be cut and there will be no one there to fill the void.
The budget proposal will eventually snowball out of control once it gets rolling downhill, unless collectively we pull together our resources and stop it.