The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point needs to cut 2.5 million dollars from their spending for the fiscal year of 2019, which begins July 2018.
Provost Greg Summers said that there is an ongoing structural deficit that was in danger of growing beyond six to seven million dollars. Structural deficit is when the spending goes beyond the revenue.
“Part of this is because of the drop in enrollment,” said Summers.
But there is a silver lining, Summers explained, this is because the university has become better at graduating quicker.
“This isn’t all about reductions though. We also want to invest in new things that have demonstrated an increase in enrollment. So, it’s not just a reduction but rather a repositioning,” said Summers. “We are investing things in admissions because they help contribute to enrollment growth.”
In the College of Fine Arts and Communications, consolidations are helping to prevent the need to cut programs and faculty.
Dean of COFAC, Valerie Cisler, talked about how certain credits were being condensed into one similar focus in the arts. In communication, it has been proposed that the Interpersonal Organization emphasis be combined with the Public Relations emphasis.
“What has really exploded since I was a student is the technology. The huge amount of staff we have to maintain it is costly. Don’t get me wrong, I love it but we have to have the fire department to come in, vents have to be cleaned and cleared, all of that is something we didn’t used to have to deal with,” said Cisler.
Cisler explained that the needs of students have changed and with that the trends have changed.
“Students don’t enroll in certain majors as time goes on. And, as those shrink, so does funding. It doesn’t mean any one [is] neither more nor less important necessarily, but the needs have shifted,” said Cisler.
Cisler said that even with the consolidations and combinations, the COFAC will still have to cut a total of three positions, with two in communication and one in art.
“In the next several years there will be some retirements but to meet this immediate need, we will have to let some people go. It’s the worst thing in the world to have to do. But we must,” said Cisler. “It’s pretty tough to try and take parts away from things that can’t exist without others.”
Cisler said she wants to maintain the integrity of all the arts programs. She wouldn’t be able to do it without the staff who she said already work 18 percent below normal level of salary.
Interim Dean of the College of Letters and Science, Eric Yonke, said that departments of COLS have gathered their ideas for combining but about 12 to 15 positions will have to be cut. Though, COLS makes up about 65 percent of UWSP’s education.
When asked about the concern about humanities being gutted, Yonke said, “Humanities enrollments have been going down but also the humanities are less expensive to run. So, its tough to decide what we cut from it and how much.”
One solution to the need for cuts is the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program. This program gives a small pay out for any staff willing to voluntarily retire. If a faculty or staff member retires and the position doesn’t need to be filled, the decrease in paid positions saves money.
Yonke said there is more on the horizon that they will have to deal with for what still needs to get cut. Things like supplies and equipment can only get cut so far. The goal though is to see what it takes to keep the building running and fill the needs.
“Every department is doing what they can to contribute” said Summers.
“If we had a single goal, it would come down to maintaining strong curriculum, strong faculty and doing what we can for the students,” said Cisler.