Controversial Blugold Commitment Broken-Down
By Sarah Frost, Kristin Hennes, Laura Small, and Kelly Todd
Though most students on campus have heard reference to the Blugold Commitment, many still may not know exactly what the commitment is. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of Graduate Studies, Michael Wick, defines it as a “differential tuition program in which undergraduate students voluntarily support an increase of tuition starting in fall of 2010.”
According to Wick, the Blugold Commitment has both immediate and long term benefits for students and faculty. It affects students in the short term because they are responsible for the tuition increase; however, all of the money goes right back to the students through six predetermined categories of initiatives. Faculty will also gain from the Blugold Commitment through positions allotted to better help the students. He also says the commitment will “increase the University’s reputation, as well as the graduation rate, which will benefit the state of Wisconsin.”
The Blugold Commitment Web site states the six categories of initiatives that the money will be used for
- Undergraduate research
- Experiential learning and internships
- Study abroad
- Learning and teaching enhancements
- Innovative projects
Wick says that 60% of the budget will be used for high-impact processes, which are the six categories stated above. The remaining 40% will go toward financial assistance.
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugold Commitment Web site states that the ratio of students-to-faculty will decrease from 21 to 1 to 19 to 1 with the tuition increase. Through the improvements of the opportunities provided for students on campus, the University will also gain more prestige in its reputation by making the degrees more competitive. The state of Wisconsin may also benefit because the four-year graduation rate is expected to increase from 23 to 40 percent with the additional funding available for learning and teaching enhancements.
The Web site also states the tuition increase of $1,200 will be phased in over four years: for the 2010-11 academic year, the additional tuition would be $300 ($150 per semester); for 2011-12, $600 ($300 per semester); for 2012-13, $900 ($450 per semester); and for 2013-14, $1,200 ($600 per semester). These fees make up for the money the school no longer receives from the state due to the budget cuts.
Wick emphasized that the money used for the commitment will “not be used to give faculty and staff a pay increase or used as back funding to offset deficits in the official UW-Eau Claire budget.” Also, Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill will not alter how the money is disbursed towards the commitment.
Wick respects the position of those who oppose the commitment. He says that the state of Wisconsin was not providing any money to help fund Wisconsin higher education systems, regardless of whether UW-Eau Claire had the commitment or not. “The Blugold Commitment is really about a partnership with the students. When the portions of the budget were being planned, the majority of the votes were from students,” Wick said.
For more information about the Blugold Commitment, visit www.uwec.edu/BC.
From left to right: Sarah Frost is a senior business management and marketing major from Warrens, WI; Kristin Hennes is a sophomore business management major from Shakopee, MN; Laura Small is a senior marketing major from Whitefish Bay, WI; and Kelly Todd is a junior organizational communication major from Madison, WI. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.