The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Administrators outline EC cuts

David Taintor

In light of record cuts to UW System schools in the state budget, Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich and his administrators addressed campus Tuesday in Davies Center on how UW-Eau Claire plans to make up the difference.

“We have to take a budget cut,” Levin-Stankevich said. “There’s no way around it.”

Gov. Jim Doyle’s proposed budget would cut $8.6 million from the Eau Claire campus over the next two years to help offset the state’s $5.8 billion deficit. Levin-Stankevich and his staff spoke mostly in general terms Tuesday, since Levin-Stankevich said he had not yet reviewed all of the departments’ specific reduction proposals.

However, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Beth Hellwig said they plan to cut more than $1 million from Housing and Residence Life, $913,000 from University Centers, more than $200,000 from Recreation and nearly $80,000 from the Children’s Center.

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Dave Gessner, assistant chancellor for budget and finance, said he expects a 5.5 percent tuition increase next year. The increase in Eau Claire’s 2008-09 Wisconsin resident tuition ($5,240.16) would equal an additional $288.20, for a total of $5,528.36. This number does not include segregated fees.

A 17 percent tuition increase across the System would be necessary to completely offset the deficit created from the overall $174 million cuts to the System in the state budget, said System President Kevin P. Reilly at the March 5 Board of Regents meeting in Madison.

Interim Provost Marty Wood said he expects the quality of the university’s academics to not only continue, but flourish the same way they did during the last significant budget cuts in 2002, when the overall System faced $44.2 million in cuts.

“People were doing the best job of teaching they could do, no matter what was happening in the budget,” Wood said.

Levin-Stankevich said further personnel cuts are pending, though Wood said they will limit cutting faculty positions, and will reorganize responsibilities where possible. Larger class sizes, and fewer services and course offerings are also likely, Wood said. Consequently, Levin-Stankevich said students can expect to take longer to graduate.

Hellwig said they will increase promotion of the National Student Exchange program, which creates $140,000 annually in revenue. Hellwig said NSE is a cheaper alternative to studying abroad and a means to alleviate potential housing issues. There were about 130 students housed at The Plaza Hotel this year, according to a university press release, and administrators expect 200 to live in hotels next year. Campus dorms have a 3,905 student capacity.

Wood said they plan to seek alternative funding and save $20,000 a year by only posting course catalogs online. Hellwig said student handbooks will also only be posted online. August commencement has been cancelled, and LTS is working on a plan to replace computers less often. The athletics department, which already raises $150,000 independently to cover costs, is trying to cut travel expenses.

Levin-Stankevich said he fully intends to proceed with the new Davies Center and Hobbs Ice Arena building projects. Neither project is supported by state funding and is therefore not jeopardized by budget cuts, he said.

Student fees have primarily supported the $5 million accumulated so far for the new Davies Center. The $5 million cannot be allocated to any other project, Levin-Stankevich said.

Though the Brewer Hall construction was delayed in Doyle’s budget, Levin-Stankevich said pursuing a joint-use facility with the city could be an alternative to seeking state funds. Hobbs Ice Arena could be crucial in maintaining a positive relationship with the greater Eau Claire community, Levin-Stankevich said.

If nothing else, Levin-Stankevich said the projects are at least something to look forward to in the midst of a dismal economy.

“It’s also depressing if we don’t have something moving forward on our campus.”

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Administrators outline EC cuts