Update on the budget and more

IMG_0121State budget to be released Tuesday

It’s hard to get away from the fact that Gov. Scott Walker’s 2015-17 state budget proposal, which won’t be officially released until Tuesday night, already is dominating conversations around campus. I can certainly understand, given his announcement last week that the budget would mean a $150 million reduction for the UW System for each year of the biennium.

Following the announcement, we announced steps to cut our costs immediately in the areas of hiring, travel and salary adjustments. UW System administration implemented these measures first and encouraged other campuses to follow suit.

I’m sure there are plenty of questions, concerns and anger over what the 2015-17 state budget will mean for UW-Stout in general and each individual student and employee in particular. Rest assured, I share those questions, concern and anger. At the very least, we will have a much better idea of the potential impact of the budget this week. After the governor releases the document to the Legislature, UW System will spend the next couple of days analyzing the numbers and then will tell the individual campuses what they could expect for reductions. We will disseminate that information to campus as quickly as we can.

It is important to remember that this is just Gov. Walker’s proposal; the budget has to go through a number of legislative reviews before it becomes law, probably in June. I was in Madison last week discussing the budget proposal with legislators, and I was encouraged that there seems to be an awareness among some Republican legislators of the enormity of the cut and the havoc it would cause for every campus. I will be spending a lot of time talking to our legislators throughout the budget process to make sure they have the information they need to make prudent decisions concerning our budget.

It also will be important for us to get together often to discuss the budget and how will we respond. We intend to hold budget forums in the very near future, just as soon as we get our campus-specific information from UW System and have a chance to digest it.

I hope you are reading the state budget news that our communications office is putting in UW-Stout Today and are going to the UW-Stout state budget website for additional information, including a feedback form. We need to stay informed if we are going to make good decisions.

No question this will be a difficult period for the campus. But I am convinced we have the will and the ability to make the kinds of decisions that will ensure our students continue to receive the quality education they expect from Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University.

Engineering moving forward?

The Board of Regents meets at the end of the week, and there will be yet another debate over whether UW-Stout can offer additional engineering programs. However, I am optimistic that by the end of the meeting there will be consensus that we can offer a mechanical engineering degree in the fall.

Once we get that intent to plan signed, it appears we will be able to recruit students for the fall.

We also intend to pursue new programs in electrical engineering and chemical engineering.

Thanks again to everyone on campus who has worked so hard to get us to this point.

We lost our oldest living alumni

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Henry Hulter enjoys his 107th birthday party in November with his daughter, Marilynn Hulter Ackermann.

I took note last week that Henry Hulter, 107, believed to be UW-Stout’s oldest living alumni, died Jan. 16 in San Rafael, Calif.  Henry graduated from what was then Stout Institute in 1938 and went on to teach in Detroit for many years.

Henry came to Stout from his native Superior and was known as a kind and loving father and grandfather who will be greatly missed by his family and friends. Henry had a very active life right to the end. In fact, he did his usual 45-minute morning bike workout at a local gym the day before he died. A memorial service will be held Feb. 7 in San Rafael.

Apply for a Stout University Foundation scholarship

I’d like to remind students that the deadline for Stout University Foundation scholarships is today, Feb. 2. Please go to http://www.uwstout.edu/foundation/scholarships/ to apply.

Many years ago when I was a student, I was very fortunate to have received several Foundation scholarships that helped me continue my studies. Think of it this way: The time you spend filling out the application could well be the most you’ll ever be paid in your life if you receive one of these great scholarships. It remains true for me.