I am pleased to report that the Legislature has wrapped up its work on the 2017-19 state budget, and it includes additional funding for the UW System in both years of the biennium, as well as general pay increases.
The state Senate on Friday sent the budget to the governor for his signature, after vetoes are issued this week. Gov. Walker has indicated that the budget will be signed by Friday. I have communicated some of these budget provisions previously, but some of the major ones include:
- Two pay raises averaging 2 percent each, one July 1, 2018, and the second one Jan. 1, 2019. The last general pay increases were 1 percent July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014.
- Creation of a $5 million “innovation fund” for 2017-18 intended to raise enrollments across the system in programs serving high demand areas, including engineering and health. We believe we will be eligible for some of this funding.
- Creation of a $26.5 million fund for 2018-19 that will be allocated across the system based on a new, but not yet determined, model that takes into consideration an institution’s performance based on metrics in four categories: grow and ensure student success; improve and excel at student progress and completion; expand contributions to the workforce; and enhance operational effectiveness and efficiency.
The budget also includes nonfiscal items that directly impact the UW, such as requiring the system to monitor the workloads of faculty and instructional academic staff; freezing tuition for the next two years; and prohibiting institutions from requiring that candidates for system president or campus chancellors be eligible for tenure. Details about the budget are available at the UW-Stout state budget website.
This budget is a tremendous improvement over the 2015-17 budget, which had a net effect of cutting aid to the UW System by $250 million. I’d like to thank our legislative delegation, in particular Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, for the improved budget and salary increases. The improvements will help us meet our mission of graduating students who can make immediate contributions to the workforce of Wisconsin.
Event symbolizes importance of scholarships
No one has to tell me how important it is to help as many of our students as we can to pay for their education through scholarships and other financial aid. As a student at UW-Stout in the 1970s, the Owen F. Goodman Scholarship I received twice played a major role in helping me stay in school.
I had the tremendous opportunity last Thursday to talk about the important role scholarships played in my life during the annual awards banquet sponsored by Stout University Foundation. The foundation has awarded more than $12 million in scholarships since it was established in 1963; this year, 388 students received a record of more than $790,000 in scholarships.
Before the event, I also was able to thank the generous donors who make these scholarships possible. I hope that the comprehensive capital campaign underway will make even more scholarships available to our students.
Cookout, ice cream events great opportunities to meet students
I was happy to join other UW-Stout staff members in helping serve burgers, corn on the cob, potato salad and other picnic fare at the annual Great American Cookout last Tuesday on the south campus mall. The best part of this event is meeting students and seeing their smiling faces as the new semester gets going.
Last Wednesday was the annual free ice cream event sponsored by my office, where I join members of my Cabinet in handing out containers of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in the student center, again another great opportunity to meet and talk with our students, as well as faculty and staff.
Please nominate a UW-Stout ambassador
I’d like you to consider a request from the UW-Stout Alumni Association, which is seeking outstanding students to apply for this year’s ambassador program. Faculty and staff are encouraged to reach out to students who they believe would be good ambassadors for UW-Stout and encourage them to apply.
This program is a networking opportunity and resume builder and capitalizes on a student’s leadership and hard work.
The application process includes an interview. The online form is due by noon Tuesday, Sept. 26. Ambassador duties begin during the Board of Regents meeting at UW-Stout Thursday and Friday, Oct. 5-6, and continue throughout the year. All the requirements and events are on the application.