MAILED: Aug. 23, 2000
The Chippewa Valley's growing need for graduates in technology-related fields is addressed in the University of Wisconsin System's 2001-03 biennial operating budget proposal, to be presented this Friday for consideration by the Board of Regents.
Speaking to UW-Eau Claire faculty and academic staff at the opening meeting of the academic year earlier this week, Chancellor Donald Mash said the proposal commits the UW System, including UW-Eau Claire, to a larger role in the state's economic development by increasing the number of graduates in such "new economy" industries as information technology, computer science, software engineering and biotechnology.
The System's budget proposal calls for $34.8 million in state tax revenues (GPR) for business and work force development. This would be used to expand the supply of graduates by 1,430 statewide in high-demand fields. The Chippewa Valley Initiative, which is part of this budget category, includes nearly $4 million in GPR/fees for UW-Eau Claire to expand the numbers of graduates in its high demand programs in computer science, software engineering and management information systems by adding faculty and laboratories.
Mash said the increase in resources would enable UW-Eau Claire to add 10 new faculty in computer science and MIS and develop two laboratories, one for software design and the other for systems control design. Internships and research activity would be increased, and courses and programs for working professionals who study part time would be added in the high technology fields.
With more state support and management flexibility, Mash said UW-Eau Claire's part-time enrollment across the curriculum could grow by as many as 1,000 students. "We will protect our core of traditional, full-time students and move forward with plans to increase access for part-time students and play a bigger role in the development of our region."
In addition, he said, UW-Eau Claire will work in partnership with UW-Stout, UW-River Falls and the Chippewa Valley Technical College to further drive business and economic development in the region.
"We sit in the center of a growing concentration of technology-related employers. By expanding the capacity of our already-strong computer science, software engineering and MIS programs, we will help fuel the engine of economic development in this region. Interacting with citizens and businesses while serving as a focal point and catalyst for development is a critical part of the mission of a successful regional public university," Mash said.
The System's biennial budget proposal's second category calls for $5.2 million system-wide for investing in teacher preparation and for increasing pre-college opportunities for future college students. To maintain quality in the UW System, the budget contains a $30.8 million request for preventive maintenance of facilities, continued support for library acquisitions, academic advising and maintaining information technology services. The budget also calls for $18.2 million for the culmination of the Madison Initiative, which matches state dollars with tuition dollars and private funds to maintain the strength of the Madison campus. Other special budget initiatives are $24 million for the Milwaukee Idea to support programs at UW-Milwaukee and $3.7 million for the UW-Green Bay Learning Experience.
"This budget proposal provides a compelling vision for Wisconsin's future it makes a strong case for what the UW System can do for the state of Wisconsin with steady, modest funding increases over a number of years," Mash said.
Overall the System's budget proposal calls for an average annual increase of 3.7 percent in GPR/fees in each year of the biennium for new initiatives and "cost to continue" items. The total new GPR/fee request for the biennial operating budget is $l79.9 million. Under the proposal, average annual tuition in the UW System would increase 3.2 percent per year, not including the cost of compensation increases. A separate compensation request will be submitted in November.
Also on Friday the Board of Regents will consider a capital budget GPR request of $222.9 million for a mix of projects throughout the UW System. As always the mix of projects is heavily weighted toward facilities renovation and renewal rather than new construction.
Planning funds for the Campus School building project at UW-Eau Claire head the list of long-range projects that will receive planning funds in the 2001-03 capital budget. The list also includes planning funds for renovation of the Haas Fine Arts Center. Major projects to be accomplished with non-tax funds include an $8.5 million addition and renovation to the Davies Center.
Following action by the Board of Regents, the proposal will go to the Department of Administration for consideration as part of the Governor's budget, which is generally submitted in February. Normally the state's biennial budget is approved and signed prior to the start of the new biennium on July 1, 2001.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Aug. 23 ,2000