Dear Faculty and Staff,
I am writing today to address some of the concerns expressed about our overall budget status, the process and timeline for the timing and work of the Chancellor’s Campus Organization & Effectiveness Team (CCOET), the importance of minimizing layoffs, and related issues.
First, please know that we will share the final FY16 budget cut plans with you this month. Units are working on their final plans to absorb the FY 17 cuts and these will be compiled centrally by the end of this semester and shared shortly after that.
There has been significant involvement by governance representatives in every budget planning committee (e.g., Academic Planning and Budget Committee, Budget Communication and Planning Task Forces) and we have been reporting regularly to the entire campus community on the process used to determine both temporary and permanent budget cuts as well as the size and distribution of those cuts. We will continue that reporting and to have representatives from all governance groups involved in the budget decision making processes.
All of our collective wisdom and collaborative efforts are needed to move forward to address what is the most serious financial situation we have ever known. Through this process, we will ensure that UWM emerges as a strong university with a bright, vibrant future.
CCOET was formed to examine large-scale issues of how we are organized, our processes, and our structure to enable us to better address our current challenges. I want to speak to concerns that I have heard about the composition of CCOET, the timing and process of their work, and its relationship to shared governance.
As I’ve shared in previous updates, CCOET members represent governance groups, faculty, students, staff, and administration. CCOET’s initial task was to develop a process to engage the campus. In addition to establishing a website complete with agendas, meeting notes, and anonymous methods to share ideas, CCOET has held four campus listening sessions and has received a significant amount of input from you through an online feedback survey. CCOET member representatives are attending governance and other campus meetings. Finally, data being used by CCOET is also provided on the CCOET web site.
The amount of feedback and ideas submitted so far is tremendous – I thank you and encourage you to continue to share your ideas. I have been reading your suggestions and members of CCOET are purposefully and carefully considering your input.
Some people have expressed concerns about CCOET’s process. At this stage, the group is gathering ideas, reviewing information, and discussing possibilities. The co-chairs are developing a road map they will use to formulate their recommendations, which will be shared in future meetings. The plan will be guided by the CCOET guiding principles and charges, which center on upholding UWM’s mission and strategic directions of student success, research excellence, and community engagement.
CCOET is charged with making recommendations to me by mid-February 2016. This is a concentrated time frame because the urgency of our situation requires it. Let me be clear that UWM’s dual mission of research and access, along with our inclusive culture, are our bedrock. Our institution cannot and will not support a small group of administrators making autocratic decisions. The recommendations will be based on your input and supportive of our mission.
Upon receipt of CCOET’s report, I will review the recommendations, share them with governance groups for review and input, and initiate an implementation process. My goal is for these actions to be comprehensive, thoughtful, and prompt.
There is no current plan to request that the Board of Regents declare a financial emergency for UWM. Such a declaration would be extraordinary in the UW System’s history and is only necessary if and when we would anticipate laying off faculty. It is not merely informational or synonymous with announcing our budget situation to be serious. Thus, the work of various individuals and groups, including CCOET, is focused on avoiding the need to declare a financial emergency. It is too soon in our budget planning process to know with certainty whether such layoffs will be necessary, and every effort is being made to minimize layoffs of all employees. If declaring such an emergency were to become necessary, we would work directly with shared governance and the Board of Regents per UWM policy and UW System regulations.
These are exceedingly difficult times that we are facing together. It is understandable that people are concerned, frightened, and discouraged by the budget challenges and statewide changes to shared governance and tenure. I will continue to call upon you for counsel and to work closely with our governance groups, faculty, staff, and students. Your input has always been of great value and is what will form our future.