Initial budget reaction positive; Stout Proud Day to feature video made by alumni

Our first analysis of Gov. Walker’s budget


The dust is settling in the wake of Gov. Walker’s release last Wednesday of the 2017-19 state budget.  Our analysis of the budget is continuing, but I am pleased to say that the initial reaction of legislators for the increased UW System funding of more than $100 million appears to be positive.

Most of the legislative scrutiny so far seems to be concerning the governor’s proposal to move state employees to a self-insurance plan as well as his $35 million proposal to cut the cost of tuition in 2018-19. While both of these proposals would have a dramatic impact on UW-Stout, there didn’t seem to be much opposition at all to the increased funding, which we so badly need.

There also doesn’t appear to be opposition to the governor’s proposal to increase salaries in 2018-19.  Maintaining these back-to-back 2 percent increases (in September 2018 and May 2019) is a top priority of mine. There are potentially problematic parts of the proposal, including a massive increase in the number of undergraduate programs for which we offer three-year contracts and a requirement to monitor faculty and staff workloads.

Furthermore, we will have to work closely with the Legislature to ensure the metrics adopted for the $42.5 million in performance-based funding makes sense for UW-Stout. I had a chance to discuss this issue with the governor last Tuesday, and he indicated a willingness to work with the Board of Regents to make sure the metrics work for all types of institutions.

Much more on the state budget, including all the budget documents, is available here.

Show your UW-Stout pride Friday, Feb. 17


I’d like to remind students, faculty and staff that Friday, Feb. 17, is Stout Proud Day, a day to bring people together to celebrate not only how wonderful our university is but also to remember Wawa (pronounced “Wava”) Thorson. She was a proud UW-Stout alumna and created the Kolbenschlag Endowed Memorial Scholarship in 1996 to honor her supportive parents and her UW-Stout spirit.

With her passing in 2012, Wawa asked that her estate gift left to the university be honored through celebration of her birthday. This year’s Stout Proud Day will feature the work of two of our successful alumni, Chris Bartlett and R.T. Vrieze, who created a video emphasizing what it means to be “Stout.” Learn more here.

They have done a tremendous job, and we wanted to share this video with everyone before releasing it on social media. We will have three showings, at 1:00, 1:45 and 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, in Ballroom B of the Memorial Student Center, along with popcorn, root beer and cake in honor of Wawa.