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Wiley to academic staff: We’re in good shape

September 13, 2002

Chancellor John Wiley says the university is in good shape, despite continuing concerns over the state budget.

Wiley made his comments Sept. 9 during the first meeting of the academic staff assembly for the fall semester.

Wiley says that in the current 2001-03 biennium, the UW System was forced to absorb nearly one-quarter of the cuts to state agencies, even though the university only makes up about 9 percent of the state’s overall budget.

The budget repair bill approved over the summer cut about $44 million from the UW System, about $17 million of which was to come from the UW–Madison campus. Wiley hopes those cuts are taken into consideration when debate begins on the 2003-05 state budget.

“[The UW System] took 25 percent of the cuts,” Wiley says. “We will be arguing strongly that we did our share during this biennium.”

The Board of Regents has already approved an operating budget request for the 2003-05 biennium, which does not ask for any money for new programs. The budget only contains “cost to continue” funding requests. The specific cost-to- continue amount is currently being worked out with the Department of Administration, and will be finalized later this month.

The governor has asked all state agencies — including the university — to submit reports that explain how they would handle an additional 5 percent state cut.

“I think it is going to go from difficult to brutal. If things don’t turn around much farther and faster than most analysts expect, then there will be state agency cuts in the next biennium,” Wiley says.

Despite concerns over the budget, Wiley says UW–Madison continues to enroll some of the best and brightest students in the university’s history. He says the freshman class has an average ACT score of about 27.4, which is well above the national and Wisconsin averages. He also says students are arriving on campus better prepared than in previous years.

“Eight or nine years ago, about one-fourth of freshmen had advanced placement scores. Today it is 70 percent,” Wiley says. “I predict that almost half will be sophomores by the second semester.”

On the issue of minority recruiting, Wiley highlights the PEOPLE program, a partnership between UW–Madison and Milwaukee and Racine public high schools that increases campus diversity by identifying students with strong academic potential and preparing them for higher education.

The first group to complete the PEOPLE program consisted of 60 high school students; 24 chose to attend UW–Madison this fall. The rest went on to college at other institutions.

“Of the 60 students who started, 100 percent graduated high school and 100 percent went on to college,” Wiley says. “I think that’s phenomenal success.”