BUDGET CUTS AND THE WISCONSIN IDEA
“In many ways a cut of this size feels like a betrayal from Wisconsin,’ he (University of Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt) recalled telling faculty early this year (in 2015), when the looming statewide cuts were predicted at $300 million. It also feels like a death in the family.’” “Schmidt said they’ve had just as big of a negative impact on campus morale.”
Over the past five years, the University of Wisconsin System has seen budget cuts of $500 million. In the 2011-2013 budget, $250 million was cut from the UW System. An additional $250 million was cut from the UW System in the 2015-2017 budget.
The depth of these cuts will have ramifications for students for many years to come. Impacts on students include:
***Increases in class size.
***Reductions in program sections.
***Students attending college for a longer time resulting in additional financial hardship.
***Cuts to academic programs.
***Cuts to academic advising and financial aid services.
***Fewer research opportunities
***Fewer student employment opportunities
***Reduced access to learning materials in libraries
***Waiting lists for highly requested programs—Business, Engineering, Nursing
***Elimination of athletic programs
***Loss of expertise due to hundreds of staff reductions
***Fewer students attending the UW-System
The deep cuts threaten the national reputation of the UW campuses. “For the UW-Eau Claire a 36% increase in classes with more than 50 students and an 18% decrease in classes with fewer than 20 students directly impacts the U.S. News Rankings.” The University of Wisconsin—LaCrosse is rated the best public university in Wisconsin and the 4th best in the Midwest.
The University of Wisconsin—Madison is ranked 11th among public colleges. UW—Stout and UW-Eau Claire have ranked high in recent U.S. News and World Report list of Best Regional Universities.
The deep cuts will impact:
***Building and ground maintenance
The economic effect of the cuts to the 13 UW Campuses and the 13 UW Extension campuses will have a profound impact across the state. The cuts “will strike a blow to a key source of potential economic growth and undercut a major opportunity to translate the Systems scientific research into new high growth companies and jobs.”
The UW System and its offshoots contribute $15 billion to the state’s economy. The UW-Madison Impact Study done in 2015 highlights the crucial role the UW System plays in the economy.
***For every $1 of state tax investment to the university, there is a return of $24.14 in economic activity in the state. ***311 UW related start-up companies support nearly 25,000 jobs contributing $2.3 billion to Wisconsin’s economy.
***193,310 jobs were created and supported by UW-Madison and its offshoots.
The Wisconsin Idea is “One of the longest and deepest traditions surrounding the University of Wisconsin…and signifies a general principle: that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom.” Over 1000 recent examples of UW-Madison’s service to the state is available at: http://www.wisc.edu/wisconsin-idea/
Christine Evans, assistant professor of history at UW-Milwaukee, states what many Wisconsinites fear: “The Wisconsin Idea has been a national model for over a century. Mr. Walker’s assault on it is meant as a model, too—a guide for dismantling the public universities we’ve all inherited.”