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WUWM's Emily Files reports on education in southeastern Wisconsin.

Changes Loom For UWM As Campus Leaders Look To Cut Costs

Rachel Morello
UWM Chancellor Mark Mone announces a package of ideas to cut costs for the Milwaukee campus.

Big changes are on the horizon for students and faculty at UW-Milwaukee. Budget strains mean the school must find ways to save money over the next few years.

UWM leadership announced a financial recovery planat a public meeting on campus Monday. The “magic number” in this plan is three.

It’s a three-year plan, and UWM Chancellor Mark Mone has outlined three areas where the university will try to save money.

The first is administration. Mone says his team will eliminate one-quarter of senior-level administrators – like vice chancellors – as well as reduce the number of other managerial positions across campus by ten percent.

Second, leaders want to make academics more efficient by consolidating programs. If there’s redundancy in course offerings, they’ll work to condense them, which could mean combining certain departments, or getting rid of them altogether.

And third, Mone wants to do what he calls “strategic position control.” That means rethinking which faculty and staff posts the university really needs and which can be eliminated.

Altogether, UWM officials estimate these shifts will save the university about $27 million over the next three years.

UWM leaders devised this plan to cut costs because the school has been operating in the red.

The UW system as a whole saw funding cuts in the most recent state budget. The system splits money up among campuses based on metrics like enrollment. UWM has seen a drop in enrollment since 2010, so its slice of the pie has really shrunk.

On top of that, state schools can’t raise tuition because of a freeze imposed by Gov. Scott Walker. UWM can’t make up for lost revenue by raising prices for students.

Monday marked the fourteenth in a series of meetings concerning the budget, so the UWM community has had awhile to chew things over.

Students and faculty seem upset about the situation, but grateful to school leadership for piecing together some sort of solution.

“I think it’s something where we want to be as open and transparent, as engaging [as possible],” said Chancellor Mone. “I think most people understand through the intensive communication, what we’re facing is not something that we’d like to do.”

Mone didn’t provide many specifics about which programs and schools the changes will affect.

There’s still a lot left forleaders to figure out.

Planners will start at the next budget meeting on April 18th. That’s when they’ll talk about which campus leaders need to come together to start making these tough decisions. 

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