||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Chancellor Mash Reports
On State of the University
MAILED: Aug. 30, 1999|
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faces challenges in the decade ahead and cannot rest on its past achievements, Chancellor Donald Mash told faculty and staff today (Aug. 30) during the opening meeting of the 1999-2000 academic year.
Mash urged faculty and staff to join him in working with a sense of urgency to address the challenges facing the university at this crucial point in history.
"The challenge of leadership to do the right things, not just to do things right, and to do them with a sense of urgency falls on every member of the university community," Mash said. "Your efforts to do the right thing have resulted in this university's strong reputation for excellence in undergraduate education, but there are new challenges that await us as we draw to a close the decade of the '90s."
He called on faculty and staff to help the university become institutionally nimble enough to expand its commitment to the Chippewa Valley while at the same time continuing to build upon the level of excellence that is its base an exceptional living-learning environment for its full-time, actively engaged students. "We need to be nimble enough to serve the higher education needs of older part-time students and working adults who live in our service area," he said. "A well-educated citizenry is crucial to both the economic and social welfare of our service area and the state of Wisconsin."
By expanding its service to this new group of potential students, the university also will create opportunities to supplement its resource base, which Mash calls the biggest challenge in the next decade.
"Over the past 15 years, Wisconsin has ranked last among the seven upper Midwestern states in the percent of increase in state appropriations for higher education," he said. "During the '90s UW-Eau Claire has had no significant adjustments in the operating budget except for modest pay plan adjustments. In fact, this university has been able to maintain its level of quality only because of difficult but timely reallocation decisions it has made coupled with its students' willingness to pay differential tuition and technology fees. The first decade of the next century must be one of better support if we are to realize our aspirations and build upon our level of excellence."
Although the Governor's proposed biennial budget, still being debated by the state legislature, offers hope for improvement during the years ahead, Mash said UW-Eau Claire's level of excellence is simply not going to be supported by the state.
"We must continue to aggressively help ourselves. Our challenge is to maximize all of our resource opportunities with a sense of urgency and focused planning while continuing to operate very efficiently.
"That doesn't mean we won't work aggressively to pursue the highest level of state support. We must make our best and strongest case for state support. It's our largest source of revenue, and all of us have a responsibility to speak clearly about the critical cause and effect relationship between investing in public higher education and Wisconsin's prospects for the future."
The university must also make the most of opportunities to serve more students during spring semester, winterim and summer sessions as well as with late afternoon, evening and weekend classes. Doing this will strengthen the case for better state support and generate additional tuition revenue.
"To serve more students and area businesses, we require more management flexibility than we currently have in order to operate more aggressively and entrepreneurially," he said. "This management flexibility is partially addressed in the governor's budget proposal, and its adoption is critical."
A supporter of steady and reasonable increases in tuition with comparable increases in financial aid, Mash said the university's relatively low tuition level (30 of 35 peer universities in the upper Midwest) has become a political liability when seeking additional state support. "There must be a fair sharing of increased state support and tuition revenue in the coming decade if Wisconsin's public universities are going to keep pace in a nationally competitive market. We have lost ground in the decade of the '90s."
Mash also has begun discussions with student leaders about the possibility of increasing differential tuition, which has remained at $50 per semester at UW-Eau Claire for the past three years. This extra fee, which was strongly supported by student leaders, raises nearly $1 million a year to support special features of the baccalaureate degree program, such as faculty-student collaborative research. "Our outstanding students expect quality and have been willing to help us maintain it," he said.
The university also must increase the level of private support to supplement state and tuition support. With new leadership in place for the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, a needs assessment will occur this fall as the next step in building the case for a first-ever international fund-raising campaign to be conducted in the near future.
"Our plans and aspirations can't be limited or driven by the resources currently in place," Mash concluded. "What we want our university to be in the next decade and beyond must be addressed today."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Aug. 30, 1999