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UW System Administration Announces Layoffs, Other Cuts

Scott Olson
Getty Images
Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson speaks to workers and guests before a tour of the Reed Switch Developments Corp. manufacturing facility on Oct. 5, 2012 in Racine, Wis.

Updated on Wednesday at 12:31 p.m. CT

University of Wisconsin System administration will lay off an untold number of employees over the next two years as part of $10 million in cuts that interim President Tommy Thompson announced Tuesday.

The layoffs affect employees of UW System Administration only. The system's 13 universities are making their own reductions that were necessary due to a loss in revenue and state-ordered cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The layoffs of system employees will total about $6 million over two years, which represents a 10% cut to state-supported salaries. There are about 370 employees at UW System, so a 10% cut could mean the loss of almost 40 jobs. Thompson did not have a number of how many people would lose their jobs.

“These are new layoffs,” Thompson said at a virtual news conference. “It’s actual positions."

Gov. Tony Evers has ordered a $250 million budget cut to all state agencies, including UW, but the actual amount the university will take is still being negotiated, Thompson said. That will be on top of a nearly $49 million budget cut to the university in a previous round of reductions ordered by Evers.

Thompson said more cuts would be coming, in addition to those he announced Tuesday. Evers' administration projected earlier that the state budget would face a $2 billion cut to the coronavirus. He's ordered about $320 million in cuts so far.

“I can’t tell you exactly where the rest of the cuts are going to come from, but I can tell you we will do what is necessary to comply,” Thompson said. "We’re arguing right now over the size of the further cut put out by the administration.”

Previously announced furloughs at UW System will save $1.3 million. Thompson also announced that out-of-state-travel, and the purchasing of supplies and equipment, would be limited through June 30, 2021, for a savings of $2.4 million. Additional savings were expected through eliminating several memberships, sponsorships, and subscriptions and using virtual meetings.

About half of the $10 million in savings will be put toward a new scholarship for underrepresented and under-served students, Thompson said. Those scholarships are set to begin in the fall 2021 semester.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said there are about 600 employees at UW System, so a 10% cut could mean the loss of 60 jobs. There are about 370 employees at UW System, so a 10% cut could mean the loss of almost 40 jobs. The story has been updated.

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