Budget cuts limit staff

Story by Bridget Cooke, Staff Writer

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New staff members continue to be hired at UW-Eau Claire, but $46 million in state budget cuts have affected the ability of certain departments to bring in new instructors.

The computer science department at Eau Claire hired two new associate professors, Peter Bui and Michael McMann, for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Bui will teach distributed computing and computer architecture, and McMann was a joint hire with the department of art and design brought on to help instruct in the areas of web design and animation.

Regardless of budget limitations, Bui said he was looking forward to the upcoming academic year.

“I think that the campus has a lot of potential,” Bui said. “The new student center looks great. I like the river, it is nice looking, and I think the new green space where the old Davies Center used to be will look nice, too.”

Bui also said that he is realistic about the future of the budget cuts. He believes they could possibly be a positive because they may force the university to provide quality instruction for the extra tuition students have to pay.

Bui added the university will be fine as long as it continues to stay true to its identity.

“It’s important that we are constantly improving and I think Eau Claire is in a good condition to do that,” Bui said. “I mean, I’m a part of about 50 new people that were just hired. So we’re getting new blood, new ideas, to kind of re-energize the campus.”

Wisconsin has been adjusting to tough budgetary issues, limiting spending and tightening its belt, making $123 million cuts to state aid overall.

According to an email sent to UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff by former chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich, the “state budget lapse” requires that an amount of state allocation be saved — in others words, not spent — by the university from the lapse reduction. This includes areas that are not covered by tuition fees, such as hiring capable faculty to instruct.

Joline Morrison, department chair of computer science, shared her experience with the lack of funding for the university and her own department.

“(Peter) replaced a person who resigned in 2011,” Morrison said. “The reason the person resigned — he was a young faculty member, up-and-comer, really sharp guy — he resigned due to the governor’s
anti-education policies.”

Morrison added that they lost quite a few good candidates to fill positions within the department during that time because they had told her “the political situation, the budget situation in Wisconsin, is so unsettled that I don’t want to come and work there.”

Budget cuts have also affected the department’s ability to purchase new equipment for their labs, and the faculty have decided to no longer attend conventions that aid them in their teaching processes.

Morrison added that they have been affected, but they are finding ways of making it work to ensure courses are taught, and that she assumes other departments are probably taking similar measures.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if other departments had to think up creative ways to pay for teaching because that’s basically what we have to do,” Morrison said.

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