Statement by Chancellor Wiley on proposed state budget
“As the State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee considers the UW System budget tomorrow [Thursday, May 19], we are hopeful the Legislature will once again understand the critical role of higher education in the state’s economy and the future of its citizens.
In this current biennium, we have struggled to manage the $38.5 million cut to UW–Madison. While we have tried to minimize the direct impact on student instruction, because of the magnitude of the cuts our educational mission has been affected with class cuts, class size increases and reduced summer course offerings. Most significantly, we continue to struggle to retain faculty who receive offers from universities in states where salaries are more competitive and there is less worry about the state’s commitment to higher education. Without top-flight faculty we cannot have a top-flight university.
While we understood the fiscal challenges the Governor faced in addressing the state’s $3.2 billion deficit in the last budget, the UW took more than its share of cuts. We are grateful that the Legislature recognized the impact these cuts would have and did not go beyond what the Governor proposed.
In the proposed budget, we have an opportunity to make modest progress in a few strategic areas, such as increasing financial aid, retaining faculty, hiring additional faculty in high-demand areas and directly supporting research into Alzheimer’s Disease. The proposed capital budget that includes the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery also represents a promising investment in our future.
However, the proposed budget barely helps us turn the corner. Should the budget get any worse, it will be basically impossible to continue to compete among the nation’s top public universities. We are in danger of falling from being a great university to becoming a mediocre one, a challenge made more sinister by the fact that Wisconsin has fallen to 45th among all states in the level of support for higher education. Moreover, the projected savings the Governor outlines in his budget appear unlikely to result in savings for us and may result in additional cuts.
I am hopeful the Legislature will once again recognize the value of the university to the state and will resist the temptation to cut us further, but instead provide us with these critical resources.”