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UWPlatteville plans layoffs to deal with deficit
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UW–Platteville’s sesquicentennial year will include 30 to 35 layoffs, part of reducing university employment by 101 to deal with $8.5 million in spending cuts by a July 1 deadline.

Chancellor Dennis Shields made the announcement at the State of the University speech in the Municipal Building council chambers Wednesday.

Two-thirds of the university’s 101 job cuts were by not filling vacant positions and by voluntary separations, announced one year ago. 

“Up to this point on campus we have avoided significant layoffs,” said Shields, who added that there are “more difficult choices ahead of us.”

Shields said there would be changes in senior campus administration in the “next six to eight weeks.”

More than half of the spending cuts were part of the $5 million structural deficit in its 2014–15 academic year, plus $3.5 million cut from UWP as part of the 2015–17 state budget. In-state tuition was frozen by the Legislature, though tuition was increased for Tri-State Initiative students.

Shields said the university has cut $11 million in spending the past four years, while using “a significant portion of our carryover balances” as a “glide path” to lessen the impact of spending cuts.

The university’s spending issues contrast with reports of large cash balances within the UW System (see page 4A), which Shields said are “not ongoing” and do not “impact what the ongoing budget looks like.”

Cash balances generally are committed to building projects, or come from donations whose use are restricted by donors, Shields said.

“We’ve taken to heart the idea that we have to be able to explain our finances in a way that makes sense,” he said. “It is a business of sort, but it is not a typical corporation.”

Shields said the UW System is affected by “tremendous budget pressures” in other areas of state government, including Medicaid and prisons, as well as “fairly sluggish growth in the economy.”

Adding to UWP’s funding issues is “no capital dollars, even for major repairs” or such projects as renovating the second floor of Boebel Hall and building another engineering building to handle enrollment demand. Shields called the School of Engineering, Math and Science “the engineering school of choice in this region”

Shields counted among the university’s “existential threats” infrastructure issues, including deferred maintenance, modernizing existing buildings and dealing with “capacity challenges,” along with faculty compensation, which he said “at the lower end of the system in terms of compensation.”

Shields said “the standard around here” is that UWP facuilty teaches “four courses per term, and they’re doing all these other things ... because they’re committed to the enterprise.”

Shields said he is looking forward to “building and developing the university again,” even though there is “no guarantee of increases in funding moving forward. It is my hope we’re at a point where this will flatten out” and the university can “move forward.”