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University of Wisconsin-Superior

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Program Prioritization and Budget Strategy

Posted on May 22, 2014
UW-Superior sets the direction for budget reductions and revenue growth
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Chancellor Renee Wachter talking with Twin Ports media about budget strategy on Thursday.

Chancellor Renee Wachter talking with Twin Ports media about budget strategy on Thursday.

After a nine month self-study examination UW-Superior unveiled plans to chart the path for long term success. The university has recognized the need to identify roughly $4.5 million over the next five years through revenue growth and expense reduction due to a combination of enrollment challenges, state budget cuts, and tuition freezes.

"Our campus has to be prudent with the resources available to us," said Chancellor Wachter. "We must take action. These steps and discussions, while difficult, are necessary to protect and sustain the university's quality as well as its presence in, and commitment to, the Superior region for decades to come."

In Fall 2013, the campus community began a self-review process in which all campus programs, departments, offices, and services examined their alignment with respect to the mission, internal and external demand, quality, cost-effectiveness, and opportunity. On Thursday, May 22, in front of an overflow crowd of more than 275 people the campus community was presented with an update on progress which included details of decisions that are in progress and an overview of additional areas that are or will be under evaluation. "We are looking at all aspects of the university," said Wachter, "from our academic program offerings, to how we might streamline or reorganize processes and services, to where we can invest and grow."

Some of the decisions that are underway include contracting with Nebraska Book to manage the campus bookstore effective July 1, centralizing marketing functions, centralizing recruitment functions, and evaluating alternatives models for custodial services and grounds maintenance.

According to the budget strategy plan presented to the faculty and staff some of the future savings will come in a variety of forms: from not filling open positions due to retirements and departures; cutting back on supplies and expenses; to saving money on travel; and to reorganizing offices and functions.

There are several other areas that have been identified for further discussion and evaluation. Overall nine percent of academic programs have been recommended for potential suspension and will require discussion and analysis of student impact before any final decisions are made. Other academic programs may be placed into a review period to further evaluate their viability and potential. All academic programs are also being asked to review and streamline their curriculum as well as to be creative at thinking about new programs that fulfill a regional need.

Suspended academic programs will not be accepting any new students after May 27, 2014. Students in the programs have 3 years to complete the program until August 27, 2017. Those programs are:

· Master of Arts: Art History, Art Education, Studio

· Master of Arts: Theatre, Media/Mass; Communication

· Master of Science in Education: Reading, Reading Specialist, Reading Teacher

· Master of Science in Education: Library Media Licensure (Consortium), Professional Library Media Specialist

· Bachelor of Music: Music performance: Jazz performance

Another 34 percent of academic programs are also under review, meaning a deeper conversation will need to take place regarding their current and future viability. The theatre program is one of the programs now under review and will lean on the success of the theatre alumni to help support and promote the program in years to come.

Non-academic areas that will be evaluated further include functions that support student success such as advising, tutoring and career services, auxiliary operations, campus safety, and information technology, and marketing. A consultant has been hired by UW System to look into the operations and potential revenue streams of Wessman Arena.

Areas of investment include the creation of a new Center for Community Engaged Learning, enhanced athletic offerings, strategic enrollment management practices and creating more experiential learning opportunities for students.

"This is a complicated process and involves a variety of processes and timelines," said Wachter. "We want to engage the campus community in this process and be as transparent as possible. Ultimately, the goal is to work together to enhance the learning experience for our students and position UW-Superior for long-term success."

The administration has been in contact with UW System administrators and they are aware of the challenges Superior faces and are supportive of their efforts to move forward with a plan that ensures a quality educational experience for students for decades to come. Chancellor Wachter said, "We need to show System that we are making progress regarding our budget strategies and will continue to be in touch with them. They have a history of supporting this university."

Enrollment strategies have been and will continue to be a focus in the future as some of the budget challenges could be overcome with more students on campus. Assistant Vice-Chancellor of Enrollment Management John Mueller outlined a series of steps that would help attract more students to UW-Superior in the future. Some of those areas include centralized marketing efforts on campus, continued growth of social media opportunities, a new website, advising, community connections and added athletic opportunities.

Established in 1893 the university has been a major economic and educational leader in the city of Superior and that tradition of excellence will continue as the school comes up with innovative ways to support students, faculty and staff and the mission of the university. Chancellor Wachter said, "The community is behind us, they want to support us and want to know what they can do."

Well over 25,000 graduates have proved that UW-Superior is a dedicated destination for higher learning and that commitment to academics and community involvement will continue as the school makes future decisions moving forward.

Vice-Chancellor of University Advancement, Jeanne Thompson told campus that both the Foundation Board and the Alumni Board are aware of the current financial needs and are willing to help out in any way possible to help grow revenue. A future campaign will be created to have alumni, friends and family assist in the future success of the university. Chancellor Wachter also mentioned the need to develop more of a budget reserve to assist with future challenges.

While recognizing the hard work and dedication of the faculty and staff the idea of collaboration with those involved for the larger goal of the success of the university is critical. Wachter added, "I know this is painful...but it is do-able."

News Contact: Tom Hansen | 715-394-8260 | thansen7{atuws}
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