MAILED: March 15, 2002
EAU CLAIRE - The UW System Board of
Regents' extraordinary decision to suspend admissions at all campuses was
difficult yet necessary given the uncertainty of the state budget situation and
continued suggestions that additional dollars be cut from the System budget,
Chancellor Donald Mash said.
"It would be irresponsible of us to
continue to admit students if we are not certain that we'll have adequate funds
to provide them with services," Mash said of the System-wide admissions
freeze that went into effect March 9. "The Regents are concerned about the
same thing we're all concerned about - protecting the integrity and quality of
the UW System. We can't take a business as usual approach when shoes keep
UW-Eau Claire already had closed admissions
prior to the freeze. As a result, UW-Eau Claire will likely be at or over its
2,085-freshman class target number, bringing the total full-time student
population to about 9,500 for the 2002-03 academic year, Mash said.
"We're in a different situation than
many of the campuses that had not yet completed their admissions process,"
Mash said. "Our concern is that we will have the number of students we had
planned but not the funding to provide them with services."
Under the current budget proposals, UW-Eau
Claire could see a loss of $5 million between now and the end of the 2002-03
fiscal year, Mash said, noting that the figure includes loss of revenue
resulting from proposed tuition limits.
As a result, incoming and currently
enrolled students may find fewer class sections and larger class sizes because
the university won't be able to hire faculty to fill vacant positions, Mash
said. The admissions freeze and budget difficulties also will limit the
university's ability to provide opportunities for transfer students, special
students, part-time adult students and other populations who typically apply
later in the process, he said.
Gov. Scott McCallum's budget reform
proposal would have cut about $50.5 million from the UW System but allowed an
average 10 percent tuition increase to make up about $9 million of that amount
for a net reduction of $41.5 million. This would be a substantial cut but one
that could have been managed without significantly affecting the quality of
services provided to students, Mash said.
However, the Joint Finance Committee
proposed additional cuts, which would result in another $20 million reduction in
the System's budget, about half of which would have come from the committee's
recommendation limiting tuition increases. "They're cutting our budget and
limiting our ability to generate revenue," Mash said. "The tuition
piece doesn't help the state budget situation by one cent, but it does affect
our ability to provide quality services for our students."
After the System announced its admissions
freeze, the Republican caucus of the state Assembly recommended yet another $60
million in cuts to the System budget, bringing the total proposed budget cuts to
about $108 million. On March 15, the full Assembly voted on its budget bill and
approved the recommendations of the Republican caucus. Budget repair
consideration now moves to the state Senate.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: March 15, 2002