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Faculty Senate urges state to reduce proposed budget lapse

November 8, 2011

The Faculty Senate Monday passed a resolution in support of public funding for higher education, calling on Gov. Scott Walker and the state Legislature to reduce the budget cut targeted at the UW System.

The resolution calls on the governor and legislators to bring the lapse more in line with the UW System’s share of the overall state budget.

Last month, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch sent a letter to the UW System and other state agencies notifying them a $174.3 million lapse would be required in the 2011-13 biennium to balance out sluggish state tax collections. The cut designated for the UW System equals $65.7 million, or 38 percent of the total lapse, over the next two years. The UW System accounts for 7 percent of state expenditures. UW–Madison faces a cut of $24.6 million under the plan.

Interim Chancellor David Ward said the resolution is helpful in that it makes clear the university’s concern about the budget cuts. He added that in this tough fiscal climate, it will also be necessary for university stakeholders to look within to find opportunities for fiscal efficiencies.

“I hope we can have a dialogue about what we can do to help ourselves,” he said.

The lapse comes on top of a base budget cut of $250 million in the 2011-13 budget passed earlier this year.

Brad Barham, professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and chair of the University Committee, said the cuts are part of a 10-year trend toward reduced state support for higher education. The continued budget reductions affect students’ ability to graduate in four years by limiting the availability of course offerings and diminishes the training needed to compete in the modern workforce, he said.

In other action, the Faculty Senate approved a motion to make available within 48 hours audio recordings of Faculty Senate meetings on the secretary of the faculty’s Web site. The recordings will remain on the Web site for two years, after which they will be archived and made available at the request of the public. The motion was made retroactive to the Oct. 3, 2011 meeting of the Faculty Senate and to meetings of the 2010-11 academic year for which recordings exist.

Also, the Faculty Senate approved the appointment of botany professor Linda Graham to the University Committee for the remainder of 2011-12.  She replaces biochemistry professor Ann Palmenberg.

Graham joins Barham, Susan Babcock, professor of materials and science in the College of Engineering, Michael Bernard-Donals, professor of English in the College of Letters and Science, Mark Cook, professor of animal science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Peter Lipton, professor of neuroscience in the School of Medicine and Public Health, on the committee.

– Greg Bump