UW Colleges to lay off 30% of administrative staff in wake of budget cuts

Latest funding change forced 'significant action'

The University of Wisconsin (UW) Colleges will lay off nearly 30% of administrative positions as part of a cost-cutting consolidation measure, Chancellor Cathy Sandeen announced Tuesday.

"I know many of you are anxious, sad, and angry," Sandeen said in a 10-page announcement to employees. "Not knowing what our jobs, our campuses, or our institution will look like a year from now is stressful."

The move will eliminate an equivalent of 83 full-time positions in response to an extended tuition freeze and state budget cuts. Officials worked to minimize the effect on students: no campuses and no faculty positions will be eliminated, says Sandeen. The instructional budget will be cut by less than 1%. 

Under the plan, the 13 campuses will consolidate into four management and leadership regions, each of which will have just one dean or executive officer. Each campus will have an associate dean to handle day-to-day operations. Most campuses will lose six positions each, but those staff members may stay in their current jobs until Jan. 1, Sandeen says.

Additionally, they may apply for new roles within the two-year colleges' system.

The idea to group campuses into regions first came up in 2013, but the most recent budget cut forced officials to act, says Sandeen. The funding changes meant "significant action" could no longer be avoided.

New UW Colleges, Extension chancellor faces a nearly 20% budget cut

Officials originally expected to face a $6.5 million cut in the first fiscal year of the new budget, but that was reduced to $5 million—still the largest funding drop in UW College history, Sandeen says.

In an effort to boost its revenue, UW College officials will focus on enrolling nontraditional students (Savidge, Wisconsin State Journal, 7/21; Herzog, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 7/21).

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