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UWRF community responds to budget survey

March 25, 2015

The UW-River Falls administration is listening and considering a variety of suggestions from students and faculty alike.

A “Budget Leadership Summit” was held on Feb. 25, which included the Chancellor’s cabinet, college deans, the Academic Staff Council and Classified Staff Advisory Council, and Student Senate. The summit was to develop a summary of actions and cuts worthy of consideration.

According to the results of the survey, 243 responses were recorded. The suggestions fell into five main categories: reorganization/consolidation of campus divisions, elimination/outsourcing of campus services, fewer options and services for students, salary and benefit options, and academic changes.

The survey results were then broke down to three categories: those worthy of consideration, mid- to long-term changes, and changes not considered viable.

Social work major Shane Russell understands changes will be necessary.

“It’s definitely a big deal,” Russell said. “You know they are going to have to do what they can with what they have. They are going to have to make some pretty serious cuts.”

Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies Wes Chapin feels strongly about UWRF’s academic mission.

“A cut of this magnitude just forces us to do things we really don’t want to do, trying to protect the core academic mission,” Chapin said. “The United States seemed to have a general opinion that higher education was a public good. But it was a public good in the sense that if you have all kinds of entrepreneurs and innovators, and highly educated people. They provide such incredibly positive benefits that the state and the country that it is a public value or public good.”

Chapin said most people don’t understand the cuts will affect faculty and staff, if possible, rather than the students. Pay increases, benefits and even jobs will be affecting staff and faculty rather than compromise student academic careers.

UWRF will keep the students apprised of changes as they aren’t finalized yet. Chapin pins his hope for the future with a different political climate in Madison, Wisconsin, within a few years. Changes will be made known to the students in a timely manner according to Chapin.

All departments and colleges at UWRF have been part of the process of determining the best course of action. The attitude expressed by everyone interviewed is: we are all in this together.

The meetings, such as this survey, are getting a large response from the student population. The numbers for the individual campus cuts are posted all over campus. Most are by water fountains to be easily noticed. These tactics are encouraging a dialog within the UWRF community.

“I was just glad to see the responses and that the campus was engaged in the process and helping us figure out how to successfully move through this,” said Kris Anderson, associate vice chancellor for Enrollment and Student Success.

Anderson went on to say the quality of the education that UWRF students receive is still the primary core mission.

The topic of the budget cuts isn’t easy to ignore on campus at the present time. The administration is working to ensure the least possible impact on the student population. New announcements will be coming as the decisions are finalized.