|Dear Students,I write to you from the February Board of Regents Meeting in Madison. The dialogue in many of the meetings centered on financial matters.
Overall, the conversational tone continues as that of previous meetings – increased scrutiny of and a desire for greater detail – particularly in regard to the financial positions of institutions and the driving forces behind them.
Debt service is an important topic as it relates to a campus master plan and any new facilities or capital projects which might be requested. All indications are that future resources will be tight.
The ground was laid for the next biennium budget cycle when an overview was presented of financial position and challenges. Ongoing costs not currently funded by the legislature total $61.9 million for FY ‘15. This number encompasses several areas. The imposed budget reduction for this spring resulted in $32.8 million in permanent cuts to campuses (of which our share is the ongoing rescission of $964,000). An additional decrease of $23.9 million also exists which UW System has covered of necessity to fund compensation. Future continuing costs are $3.9 million and the funding of $1.3 million for “new” initiatives. These annual costs, when combined with estimates for a future request for compensation for the next biennium, amount to more than $306-million for 2015-2017.
On a celebratory note, there was much happening in the early part of the week and this past weekend. The hockey teams continued to shine as victors. It was a tremendous night at the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra on Saturday. 50 UW-S attendees were recognized front and center as an outstanding group to have participated in the Backstage Pass event – so thank you for your support! The performance was invigorating; our faculty members were in the spotlight. Erin Aldridge received a standing ovation for her splendid rendition of the Samuel Barber Violin Concerto. Beth Gilbert was impressive at the harpsichord in the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, accompanying principal violist Kevin Hoeschen and a Baroque band of string players. Brett Jones mesmerized his audience at a faculty recital presentation in Webb Recital Hall on Tuesday night with a wide repertoire and array of percussion instrumentation (yes, there were a ping-pong ball and a fishing pole involved, aside from your usual marimba, membrano-, metalo-, and idiophones!).
Next week is similarly a busy one. In recognition of the World Day of Social Justice (Feb. 20), the following programs are being offered: Feb. 16 at 6 PM in Swenson Hall 1004, a MOVIE: Inequality for All; Feb. 20 at 5:30 in Swenson Hall 1012, a webinar with Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, A community discussion on poverty in Superior will take place.
Many hands and much effort have contributed to the development of the first draft of the strategic plan which will be unveiled on Wednesday at two forums in Erlenbach Lecture Hall in Swenson – one at 11:30 a.m. and one at 4:30 p.m. The campus continues to need your best creative thinking as it considers the future direction of the University. I look forward to seeing you there for the conversation!
Enjoy the deep freeze while it lasts! I understand that summer (30 degrees) might arrive next week. I highly recommend the ice caves just northeast of Cornucopia – absolutely spectacular! Yes, we really are fortunate to live at the center of the polar vortex.
| Dr. Renée Wachter
University of Wisconsin – Superior
P.O. Box 2000 – Old Main 212