E-mail message to the
Friday, January 24, 2003
Update on budget shortfall
The newspapers continue to report on the States very serious fiscal situation.
And, we all are anxious to know how our university will be affected. I have
promised to keep you informed. I repeat that commitment: you will learn about
UWGBs situation from us, not from the newspapers.
Our problem, to this point, is that we know nothing about
the Governors budget plans as they concern the UW System. We do not know
what might happen to tuition, either. Not yet even an informal hint from the
Governors Office. I confirmed these points as recently as yesterday in
a conversation with President Lyall.
We do have a firm date on when the Governors budget
will be available: February 18th. That, of course, will just be a starting point
as both houses of the legislature must act, those two houses must reconcile
any differences in their approaches, and that reconciliation must then be accepted
or modified by the Governor.
The February 18th date is consistent with budget strategies
outlined in an earlier e-mail to you (available at http://www.uwgb.edu/chancellor/remarks/email2.htm).
So, have we just been sitting and waiting? Not at all. We
have been engaged in a variety of activities. First, we have been working within
the UW System on determining the fairest formula for allocating budget reductions
among campuses once the overall reductions are known. This is not a straightforward
matter and the tendency toward across-the-board cuts really works to the disadvantage
of a smaller campus like UWGB. (Relatively speaking, a much higher proportion
of our costs are fixed, and we have been arguing that cuts should
be distributed in proportion to variable rather than to total
budgets. We are making some progress here.)
We are also responding to a UW System directive to report
on what a 5% reduction would mean. Again, the rules for allocating such a cut
have not been finalized. But, as an exercise, the System did use across-the-board
reductions proportional to total budget. That is a reduction of $1.1M for UWGB.
Our response is at a very high level of generality: so many sections not taught,
so many students not served, so many positions not filed, .... Until there is
more than an abstract exercise to deal with, it makes no sense to be specific.
It makes no political sense, in my experience, because if we put specifics out
there then the response from those in Madison trying to balance the budget will
be, "thank you very much for that help; now lets talk about what the rest
of your cut is going to be." It makes no organizational sense because significant
pain and grief is caused, perhaps unnecessarily, and programs can be permanently
damaged just by mention in such exercises.
What happens when it is no longer an "exercise"?
We have been working with the Faculty Senates Budget and Planning Committee
on an inclusive strategic budgeting process. We have a document that attempts
to capture ideas coming from those discussions, and we are seeking wider involvement
in critiquing and improving upon the initial thoughts.
Also by way of preparation, the two Vice Chancellors are initiating
conversations in their areas about the principles that should guide budgeting.
Those discussions will lead, must lead, to broad and full scrutiny, criticism,
The foregoing all applies to preparing budgets for the next
biennium. The year we are currently in also faces a shortfall (even after the
budget repair bill passed last spring and the disproportionate cut
to the UW System contained in that action). The Governor has announced restrictions
affecting out-of-state travel, hiring, advertising, and capital construction.
We expect, in the next few days, to receive more specific guidance from System.
We will, as that is received, do our best to provide you with the best information
we can on how UWGB needs to respond to these new limitations. We most certainly
will be asked to return some of the budget already allocated for the current
year. Again, we have no idea yet as to how much. We have been protecting institutional
capacity to respond to such a request on short notice while minimizing disruption
to ongoing commitments.
Perhaps our biggest challenge at times like this is to stay
focused upon our primary mission and where we intend to be, long term, as a
University. Your patience, support, and involvement are appreciated.
Office of the Chancellor
David A. Cofrin Library, Suite 810
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
2420 Nicolet Drive
Green Bay, WI 54311-7001
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