UW-Green Bay’s Plan for the Safe Return of Students, Faculty and Staff to Campus: Scenario Planning Taskforce

The UW-Green Bay Office of the Chancellor emailed the following from Interim Chancellor Van Gruensven and Provost and Chancellor-elect Michael Alexander to the campus community on Monday, April 27, 2020.

Dear UW-Green Bay Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Please see the attached memo on how UW-Green Bay is preparing for possible operational scenarios as we move through the summer and into the Fall.  As the university looks ahead to the future, we must be able to react quickly to any circumstance that may come our way.  The attached memo outlines our path to prepare for as many scenarios as possible that could impact our campus with the goal of returning in a safe manner.  In the coming weeks and months, we will communicate to our community the work of the Task Force for the safe return of students, faculty, and staff to campus.  In addition, we will provide options for students that would still like to proceed with alternate forms of delivery.  Although there are still many uncertainties as to how the Coronavirus will affect the world and our region in the future, we intend to be a stabilizing presence able to provide a safe and first rate education regardless of the circumstances we face.

Sheryl Van Gruensven
Interim Chancellor
UW-Green Bay

Mike Alexander
Provost and Chancellor-elect
UW-Green Bay

Scenario Taskforce Memo

Furlough Impact at UW-Green Bay

The UW-Green Bay Office of the Chancellor emailed the following from Interim Chancellor Sheryl Van Gruensven and Provost and Chancellor-elect Michael Alexander to faculty and staff on Friday, April 24, 2020.

It’s the people at this University that give UW-Green Bay its life and strength. We are extremely proud of where we have been able to take the University, collectively, in the last few years—overcoming fiscal challenges with thoughtful planning, quick response and meeting enrollment challenges head-on. We believe in UW-Green Bay. We believe in each of you.

Please watch this video as we discuss the difficult times ahead and the decision to implement furloughs to protect the future of the University.


It is terribly unfortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced our hand. Today, we must announce plans to enact furloughs at UW-Green Bay to protect the future of the institution. This disruption in our lives and our livelihood is one that is greatly disappointing, considering the amazing momentum we had heading into the 2020-21 academic year. Although our financial health is not in jeopardy at this particular time, the reality is, we lost $3 million in revenue in just the past month and we must navigate risk until we can find some level of normalcy. We must also position ourselves to maintain healthy cash balances in the event we experience additional losses in revenue and other funding sources.

To that end, beginning with May 2, 2020, 227 staff members will be placed on furlough. All staff members who are to be furloughed received the news via their supervisors in the last 24 hours. With furloughs, as opposed to layoffs, we know that our staff will maintain their benefits and be eligible for unemployment compensation during the time they are furloughed.

In addition to furloughs of some of its staff members, Green Bay Athletics announced today that it will be suspending its men’s and women’s tennis teams indefinitely at the conclusion of the 2019-20 academic year. Several long-standing challenges have continued to hinder the opportunity for growth of the program and have contributed to rising costs and outpacing revenue, the most significant of which is the lack of an on-campus tennis facility and off-campus rental. Based on past expenditures, the suspension of these two programs will result in a savings of approximately $170,000 operationally per year and $160,000 in athletic tuition scholarships awarded per year. This decision does not impact Division I status nor membership in the Horizon League. See the full statement from Athletics.

Here are the answers to some questions you may have:

Q. How long will staff members be furloughed?
A. The current furlough will run May 2 through May 31, 2020

Q. Who will be affected?
A. 227 employees; 111 Academic Staff and 116 University Staff, totaling 2,907 furlough days. In addition, all staff making more than $100,000 will take intermittent furloughs.

Q. How was it determined who would receive furloughs?
A. When Governor Evers announced last week that he was extending Safer at Home through May 26, the campus made a decision to close until May 31. As a result, employees who are not able to perform the greatest part of their duties from home were selected for furlough. This was after consultation with deans and division leaders

Q. What cost savings does this amount to?
A. UW-Green Bay expects to see about $250,000 in cost recovery with the furlough, in addition to the savings from International Education and Athletics.

Q. Why weren’t faculty furloughed?
A. Nine-month employees are exempt from furloughs this fiscal year.

Q. Where can we furloughed employees turn to help navigate next steps?
A. Furloughed employees can start with the UW System Employee Benefits site regarding furloughs.

Q. What happens after May 31, 2020?
A. Like you, we hope for better times ahead. We will be giving a presentation on the state of the University on May 1 and can give you more details at that time about our strategy for moving forward through the pandemic.


Sheryl Van Gruensven
Interim Chancellor
UW-Green Bay

Mike Alexander
Provost and Chancellor-elect
UW-Green Bay

Commencement Ceremony Rescheduling Update

The UW-Green Bay Office of the Chancellor emailed the following from Interim Chancellor Van Gruensven to the campus community on Friday, April 10, 2020.

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

The Phoenix spirit is one of resiliency, fearlessness and support. It is with this spirit that I announce today the University’s decision to move forward with an in-person Commencement Ceremony to honor the Class of 2020 on Saturday, August 22.  The 101st Commencement Ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Kress Events Center.

Graduates, faculty and staff will be contacted in the next few weeks with additional details and information on ceremony sign-up, tickets, caps and gowns and more. Please watch your campus email for this information and respond accordingly.

Commencement is a day that is long-waited, justly earned and richly savored by students, families, faculty and staff. In light of all we have collectively endured this spring, we will all savor it even more this year.

Unfortunately, as with any commencement ceremony, we know some graduates will be unable to participate in the ceremony in person for a variety of reasons. This day belongs to every member of the Class of 2020. If you are not able to be physically present, please join your class via livestream.

We miss being with all of you on campus and look forward to reuniting for this special and joyous occasion, at a time when we hope it will once again be safe to gather and do so. We are honoring your great accomplishments at UW-Green Bay and you, as new leaders. You are critical to helping us recover and finding our way back as a community and world.

Please continue to be safe and well. We look forward to our August celebration!

Congratulations, and Onward!

The UW-Green Bay Office of the Chancellor emailed the following from Interim Chancellor Van Gruensven to the campus community on Friday, April 3, 2020.

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Yesterday was a great day for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. I could not be more pleased with the Board of Regents’ selection of Mike Alexander as UW-Green Bay’s seventh chancellor.

On behalf of the University I want to extend my thanks to the Selection Committee, comprised of University faculty and staff, members of the community and the Board of Regents, for their time and commitment to this important process. The university community deeply appreciates your thoughtful work in serving our institution. I am also grateful for the institution’s overall engagement in the process through forum attendance and candidate feedback. Thank you for your active participation as we searched for the next, best Chancellor for UW-Green Bay. Together, we did just that.

Since joining the University last year, Mike and I have developed a mutually respectful and highly productive working relationship. We are committed to a seamless transition in the weeks ahead to ensure university operations continue without disruption. We cannot skip a beat at this critical time. I am humbled that Chancellor-elect Alexander values my contributions to the institution and that we will continue to work together as a cohesive team.

Higher education is facing both strong headwinds and compelling opportunities. In the months ahead, we all need to work together– cabinet, university leaders and the university community—and we must persevere. We are all being called upon to be resourceful and creative as we forge a new path during this uncertain time. This resiliency is built into our collective DNA as members of the Phoenix family. We will lean on it and on each other often as we find new ways to teach our students, engage them and create the customized experience they are looking for from higher education.

Our work ahead requires us to be flexible. We may need to shift gears and make difficult decisions at times, but all decisions will be made with the principles of student success and the long-term sustainability of the institution as guiding principles.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to work closely with Mike knows what a tremendous asset he is to UW-Green Bay and our region. I cannot think of a more transparent and genuine individual. He will lead and inspire us as we take this dynamic institution to new levels of success, serving every student who wants an education. Most importantly, Michael Alexander is the kind of leader who lives by example and treats everyone with respect. People at UW-Green Bay and throughout Northeast Wisconsin will want to follow him. I know I do.

Please join me in offering Chancellor-elect Alexander the warmest and most heartfelt of congratulations.

Sheryl Van Gruensven

Michael Alexander Named UW-Green Bay’s Seventh Chancellor

The UW-Green Bay Office of the Chancellor emailed a memorandum from UW System President Ray Cross on Thursday, April 2, 2020 notifying the campus community of the results of the chancellor search. The UW System Board of Regents approved the selection of UW-Green Bay Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Michael Alexander as the seventh Chancellor of UW-Green Bay. He will begin his new role on May 1.

For additional comments from UW-Green Bay leaders on Dr. Michael Alexander’s appointment as our next Chancellor, see the news release.