UW-Milwaukee faces staff shrinkage due to budget gaps, lack of student enrollment and retention
UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone announced the university will cope with a $7 million revenue loss — partly due to lack of student enrollment and the tuition freeze — by offering voluntary buyout offers to senior faculty and attempts to make the campus more welcoming.Image By: Courtesy of UW-Milwaukee
UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone announced a voluntary buyout offer to senior faculty members Monday amid a $7 million revenue loss, partly due to decreases in student enrollment and tuition freeze.
“Even with comprehensive efforts to enroll and retain students, our fall 2019 enrollments declined approximately 4 percent, resulting in a tuition revenue loss of about $7M,” Mone said in a campus-wide email sent out Monday.
The budgetary concerns come seven years after lawmakers enacted an in-state tuition freeze in 2013, locking rates for Wisconsin students without increasing the amount of support from the state’s taxpayers.
In an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio, UW-Milwaukee Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administrative Affairs Robin Van Harpen said a seven-year freeze on resident tuition forces the university and the entire UW System to absorb inflationary costs. She said for UW-Milwaukee, it's akin to an annual cut of between $2 million and $3 million.
The university expects an average of 5 percent budget decrease in each individual campus unit in fiscal year 2021. According to Mone, the voluntary buyout offer is being used as a tool to help campus units meet budget reductions.
In his email, Mone pointed out the financial future of UW-Milwaukee could be improved by enrolling and retaining more students.
“Admitting new students and retaining our current students are both important, but retention of continuing students has a larger impact on our budget,” Mone said.
According to Nick Fleisher, an associate professor and president of the American Association of University Professors-Wisconsin, budget dependence on tuition and enrollment is a choice for public institutions.
"Our leadership — Democrat and Republican for a long time — has been making this choice to shift our funding model toward tuition and away from funding," Fleisher said.
The in-state tuition freeze was extended two more years while the schools were denied less than half of the taxpayer funding Gov. Tony Evers requested to compensate for the freeze.
Chancellor Mone called attention to the importance of community building to increase student retention rates. According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, less than one out of every five students who come to UW-Milwaukee does not come back to campus the next fall.
“For each of us, having positive interactions with our students helps retention and, thus, is a priority,” Mone said. “A key to student success is demonstrating that we care about our students and their futures.”
The university is taking other forms of action to combat low retention rates such as conducting surveys to analyze why students choose to leave the university, and formulation of a committee with a cross-campus membership that identifies students with risk of leaving the university.
“We face a future of challenges that we will treat as opportunities. Through creativity, collaboration and innovation, we will advance UWM to a positive future,” said Mone.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter