New University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor announces millions in base budget cuts

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WHITEWATER, Wis.– University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor Dr. Dwight Watson announced $12 million base budget cuts and proposed methods to improve the University’s financial standing.

The plan, outlined in a letter from Watson, includes reducing operational expenses by $6 million in fiscal year 2020 and an additional $6 million in fiscal year 2021. Watson asked that all divisions take part in these base budget cuts.

“This is a difficult situation for our campus, and I know many conversations have been held regarding the need to look for savings and to limit spending. There are important discussions to have at the division and department level, because that is where the best decisions can be made for the students and for the health of the institution,” Watson wrote.

Watson wrote the University will make most of its immediate savings through a combination of contract non-renewals, reduction in appointment times and layoffs.

The University plans to use the Strategic Enrollment Plan, which consists of actions steps that could increase enrollment or prevent additional losses, according to Watson.

“Some of the recruitment efforts are already showing positive impact, as seen in an increasing number of visits to campus for Preview Days and tours,” Watson wrote. “We’ve also seen an uptick in applications and admissions.”

Watson wrote UW-Whitewater plans to create new revenue by launching new programs and opportunities for students.

“I believe by focusing on our values, and through collaboration and creative problem solving we can develop long-term solutions that will help stabilize the budget, create new sources of revenue and strengthen our enrollment,” Watson wrote.

The budget cuts follow a recent decline in enrollment, which caused a $11 million loss of tuition revenue since 2016, according to Watson.

“UW-Whitewater, like most universities, is reliant upon tuition as the primary source of revenue,” Watson said. “When enrollment is down, there is a direct correlation to the budget.”

UW-Whitewater has experienced enrollment declines since the 2016-2017 academic year, including a significant decline of 4.1 percent in Fall 2019, according to Watson.

Watson and other UW-Whitewater leaders will hold a series of listening sessions to discuss the current budget situation and opportunities to improve. The listening sessions will be held on Jan. 29, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in University Center, room 275 and on Jan. 30, from 10 to 11 a.m. in University Center, room 275.