College News

Restructuring, lack of state funds lead to loss of UW-Extension faculty

Annual faculty turnover report reveals UW-Extension lost nearly a quarter of faculty in the 2018 fiscal year. 

Image By: Madeline Heim

The welcoming of system-wide restructuring this past summer meant saying goodbye to nearly a quarter of UW-Extension employees, resulting in the largest turnover rate since 2011. 

Earlier this month, the Board of Regents released their annual faculty turnover report, proving UW-Extension to have the highest rate throughout the system at 23.94 percent. Turnover oscillated between 4 and 13 percent from 2011 through 2017 across all divisions and institutions.  

This turnover is a result of UW-Extensions internal reorganization that began in 2016 to tackle the $3.6 million deficit triggered by Gov. Scott Walker and Republican-controlled legislature’s 2015-’17 budget cuts to state support.

Of the 90 positions that were cut since 2011, 69 of them followed this deficit. 

To address decreasing enrollment and alleviate the burden of decreased state support, the UW System merged two- and four-year campuses to make 13 universities with branch campuses. This also resulted in the relocation of UW-Extension to UW-Madison.

System President Ray Cross noted that administrative positions would become repetitive when asked about future job losses that would come with the restructuring. However, UW-Extension expects faculty turnover to return to previous rates with the aid of UW-Madison, UW-Extension spokesperson Shannon Carpenter said. 

Looking to the future, Carpenter stated UW-Extension “does not expect to see any changes related to the UW System restructuring,” despite the current loss. 

Other campuses throughout the system shared losses closer to 10 percent, including UW-Stevens Point and UW-Oshkosh, which did not come as a surprise to the UW-Extension Assistant Dean Matt Hanson, who noted the whole system was in similar situations because of budget cuts.

In total, the system-wide turnover rate lingered around 7 percent in the current fiscal year. 

This past week, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt spoke on the necessity of increased wages to retain quality faculty. 

With the reduction of faculty comes an increase in responsibilities for remaining professors to tackle throughout the year, Leavitt said when speaking on the need for increased state funding earlier this year.

The Regents announced a system-wide 3 percent biannual salary increase for faculty and staff earlier this month. 

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