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Chancellor outlines plans for progress amid state funding cuts

RELEASED: Aug. 24, 2011

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich
Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich
Read the complete text of the chancellor's state-of-the-university address.

EAU CLAIRE — In the face of new challenges presented by the 2011-13 state budget— which implemented the largest funding reduction to the UW System in the past two decades and represents an 11 percent cut in state funding for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire— Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich on Aug. 23 outlined how UW-Eau Claire must move ahead during the next academic year toward the vision and goals of its strategic Centennial Plan.

Levin-Stankevich delivered his state-of-the-university address during UW-Eau Claire's sixth annual Blugold Breakfast and annual meeting, which marks the beginning of the new academic year for university faculty and staff. The event was held in the university's Zorn Arena.

Levin-Stankevich pointed out that tuition continues to substitute for state funding in the UW System, and tuition and fees now account for seven out of every 10 dollars in the system's annual budget.

But it's precisely during difficult economic times that it's most essential for UW-Eau Claire to carry out its public mission and progress toward its 2016 centennial vision to be the premier undergraduate learning community in the Upper Midwest, Levin-Stankevich said.

"UW-Eau Claire is not just an island of learning, but a vibrant, connected university with a public purpose to challenge, shape and equip our students to be Wisconsin's and the world's future innovators, leaders, educators, parents, informed citizens and, yes, job creators — regardless of the wealth or privilege of their backgrounds."

The chancellor also acknowledged the operational flexibilities the Wisconsin Idea Partnership will bring to UW-Eau Claire and other UW System campuses. Those flexibilities, provided for by the state Legislature in the 2011-13 budget but the details of which still must be worked out, will enable the university to manage resources more efficiently. Levin-Stankevich thanked legislative, business and community leaders who supported UW-Eau Claire through their advocacy for the Wisconsin Idea Partnership.

The cuts in the new state budget will require changes and sacrifice, Levin-Stankevich said, including a 5.5 percent increase in student tuition and a $2.3 million reduction at UW-Eau Claire for 2011-12 that will be met by making strategic base cuts in divisions across the university.

While new budget cuts will not undermine UW-Eau Claire's fundamental fiscal health, "our fiscal sustainability over the next decade will require all of us to be much more mindful of our tuition revenue that derives from student enrollment, retention and timely graduation," Levin-Stankevich said.

By enabling more students to stay and complete their degrees, UW-Eau Claire will be able to maintain its current size and increase the number of students served, thereby increasing the revenue that supports the university's core work, Levin-Stankevich said.

"Most importantly, we will help our students achieve their goals at less cost to them and with less debt upon graduation," he said.

Levin-Stankevich outlined key priorities for the 2011-12 academic year, some of which include:

  • reforms that support timely graduation;
  • promoting the recruitment, retention and success of transfer students;
  • continuing to improve the diversity and inclusiveness of the campus community;
  • taking advantage of new legislative flexibilities gained through the Wisconsin Idea Partnership to enhance productivity and create opportunities for more competitive compensation for faculty and staff;
  • reviewing the university's culture of shared governance and making reforms to improve efficiency and effectiveness; and
  • expanding revenue-generating curricular programs.

The chancellor called upon UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff to be leaders in helping the university progress toward its strategic vision.

"As a university, we have come this far because we have not been afraid to blaze a trail, and we have kept our vision of academic excellence at the forefront," Levin-Stankevich said.

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JP/AH

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