Proposed deficit examined

Students and university administration convened in the Presidents Room of Davies Center on Monday afternoon for the second Chancellor’s Roundtable of the academic year.

Senior Katie Douglass, representing the honors society Mortarboard, opened the discussion by introducing the topic of a potential $3 billion budget deficit discussed by Gov. Jim Doyle.

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich began by explaining the supposed budget shortfall – saying there is a gap between requested money from various state agencies and the total projected state revenue. He said the projected budget was based on the economic situation before October, and it is still unclear how the financial crisis will affect the Wisconsin budget.

Levin-Stankevich believes the effect of the financial crisis will be lighter on Wisconsin than states such as California, New York or Florida.

“Most people in banking in this state tell me that the state has been very conservative (fiscally), and I believe that,” he said.

When there is less state money, the UW System is a discretionary item in the budget, Levin-Stankevich said, and causes a lapse, meaning the university is required to return some of its money in the budget. The lapse for this biennium, or two-year period, is $550,000.

“We’ve managed to prepare for that centrally in the administration,” he said. “We’re not going to go to the history department or the chemistry department or student services and say, ‘Give us back money.'”

Levin-Stankevich said the administration wants to construct a new academic building near the current campus school that would house the college of education. He added it has been 26 years since a new building has been erected on campus.

Another issue on the agenda was the funding for a new children’s center on campus. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Beth Hellwig and Associate Dean of Student Development Jodi Thesing-Ritter led the discussion on the children’s center, saying the current facilities are outdated. They said they think it is important to provide a quality, low cost facility to students and university staff.

Thesing-Ritter said that while students may not see a direct connection with a childcare facility, they are affected because it would draw more quality faculty to Eau Claire.

A topic of interest to the students in attendance was campus sustainability. One student brought up the issue of increasing the number of duplex printers on campus, while another asked classmates to explain to their friends the benefit of sustainable efforts like “Trayless Tuesdays.”

Douglass said she has been to both Chancellor’s Roundtable events this year and finds them interesting opportunities to learn more about the university. The most important issue to her on the agenda was easily sustainability, she said.

Sustainability Fellow Kate Hale said there is a pretty amazing amount of sustainable activity on campus, citing curriculum development, class experimentation and independent organizing.

Hale said the University plans to specify that 10 to 15 percent of meat, dairy and produce come from local suppliers in its next food service contract.

“Gov. Doyle identified 10 percent as goal to shoot for . we’d like to do a little bit better than that.”