Chancellor Jim Schmidt held his weekly briefing Wednesday, May 6, to accommodate the May 7 Board of Regents meeting. He shared information on enrollment indicators, the anticipated state budget lapse, updated furlough figures and formation of a Fall Planning Team to identify strategies for safely holding classes on campus if the UW System determines it is feasible to do so.
Here are the key points from this week’s briefing:
- Though housing deposit and orientation registration figures are below their levels at this time last year, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Eau Claire – Barron County have seen steady increases in the number of students intending to enroll in fall semester courses. Planning and preparation for virtual orientation sessions is underway and will provide admitted students with an opportunity to get to know the campus from afar this summer.
- Chancellor Schmidt announced that an additional 88 employees from seven areas will be taking consecutive-day furloughs, the majority of which will help reduce expenses in the current fiscal year. A total of 222 employees, some of whom hold joint appointments in two departments, will be furloughed at UW-Eau Claire in the coming months. The salary savings from the furloughs will be more than $500,000.
- Furthering the comparison of potential budget scenarios to a coming storm whose path is uncertain, the chancellor shared that the administration is preparing for a “partly cloudy” scenario that, including the state budget lapse and prior COVID-19-related expenditures and losses, totals $10 million. Chancellor Schmidt called it a “realistic, but not overly pessimistic” model for planning over the next month as more information becomes known. He has engaged division leaders and shared-governance representatives in scenario planning and discussion of potential budget strategies.
- Finally, the chancellor announced that a Fall Planning Team will examine best practices for an on-campus fall semester with physical distancing measures in place. The team will consider impacts on health management; campus living and student life; academics and high-impact practices; and campus environment and infrastructure. Nominations to serve on the team are due by noon this Friday, May 8.
For additional information, UW-Eau Claire students and employees can visit the Chancellor COVID-19 Briefings page on the Chancellor’s Office Blugold Insider site, the UW System’s Frequently Asked Questions page, and for public resources, uwec.ly/COVID-19. The next chancellor briefing will be Thursday, May 14 at 5 p.m.