UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller released the following statement via e-mail to employees on Tuesday, January 27, 2015:
You have no doubt by now learned of the Governor’s proposal to reduce funding for the University of Wisconsin System by $300 million in the coming biennium. The Governor is also proposing to give the University considerably more flexibility in the future by placing it in a state authority. In the coming days we will learn more about the details of both proposals. For now, let me tell you what we know so far.
I attach a document developed by the UW System office that gives the details of the UW System autonomy plan as it is now conceived. I am also attaching communication from President Cross and Regent President Falbo. I encourage you to read these documents carefully. Creating a University Authority has many advantages for UWGB and I support it, as do the other Chancellors. Many details must be worked out before the proposed July 1, 2016 starting date.
Three key aspects of the plan are critically important. (1) Shared governance and tenure will be preserved and managed by the authority board as is the case in most other states. (2) Employees would remain in the Wisconsin Retirement System. (3) The authority would manage employee compensation plans.
The Governor’s proposed budget reduction of $300 million, if approved, represents an enormous challenge for a system still responding to six years of budget reductions. We do not yet know how the reduction will be allocated to the campuses or what processes we will have at our disposal to smooth the reductions over a period of years. However, the reductions will have a significant effect on UWGB and the way in which we do business. Responding to the reductions in the next several months will be a real test of our innovative spirit.
As I mentioned in my recent convocation speech, we will deploy shared governance, UPIC (the new University Planning and Innovation Council) and the university leadership at all levels in developing recommendations to manage the reductions. After the Governor’s speech next week, the Provost will issue a detailed schedule of our deliberations including important milestones (e.g., spring Regent’s meetings and the fiscal year end). The schedule will also include time for town-hall style meetings to encourage broad community discussion.
It is important to appreciate that our reduction strategy must place the university in the best position possible to grow and prosper in a new autonomous UW System. A budget reduction of this size cannot be accommodated with across-the-board cuts or adjustments at the margins. We will have to make very hard choices and undertake a reshaping of our strategy, operations and organization. We are at an important place in our history.
Thank you. I’ll keep you posted as we learn more about these proposals.
Gary L. Miller