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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin addressing UW-Madison community updates and announcements at the State of the University Address on Oct. 2. 

UW-Madison to absorb $7M in budget cuts without furloughs, layoffs

Chancellor Mnookin highlighted “budget challenges” during the State of the University address.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison will “absorb” $7 million in budget cuts with no faculty layoffs and furloughs, Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin announced Monday. 

Mnookin made her announcement during the chancellor’s annual State of the University address to UW-Madison’s Faculty Senate.

“$7 million [in budget cuts], given the strength of our overall fiscal situation, is something that we will be able to absorb without anything like furloughs or layoffs,” she said.

Mnookin said the cuts will primarily impact other schools within the UW System, who, unlike UW-Madison, are running a deficit.

“Our budget is in a solid position because of strong fiscal management, including by [Chancellor Emeritus Rebecca Blank], and the attractiveness of this institution,” she said. “We can manage this cut.”

State Republican lawmakers, led by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, slashed major higher education budget proposals and reduced the UW System’s funding by $32 million over the next two years during the state budget cycle this past year in an effort to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at the university. 

Vos said the $32 million cut was equal to his estimation of the cost of DEI initiatives.

UW System leaders in August allocated $7 million in 2023-24 budget cuts to UW-Madison.

UW-Madison responded by affirming that no DEI positions would be cut. 

The second-year chancellor also highlighted UW-Madison’s “budget challenges” during her address.

Earlier this summer, Republicans on the state Legislature’s budget-writing committee shot down $347 million in funding that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed to build a new engineering building for UW-Madison. 

The proposed building, which would have replaced the 83-year-old current Engineering Centers Building, would have allowed the school to graduate over 1,000 more undergraduates annually. The current building flooded in late September and remains closed to the public until further notice. 

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Classes and labs scheduled in the Engineering Centers Building will continue to be relocated to other buildings through at least Friday, Oct. 6, according to the university.

“We have $110 million committed toward this project, most of which will not stick around, if [the project is] not able to go forward in this biannual [budget],” Mnookin said. “If the Legislature doesn't decide to [fund the new building], they'll be taking that private money and throwing it down the drain.”

Mnookin also cited concerns over the Legislature’s lack of funding for the proposed “art department relocation and consolidation” and UW-Madison’s lack of bonding authority.

Mnookin said “universities in 49 other states have imposed” bonding authority, something that UW-Madison describes as “greater borrowing power.”

“The state budget results are certainly disappointing for anyone who cares about higher education and our incredibly important role in keeping the state strong and healthy,” she said. “And in a moment when the national dialogue around higher education is pretty critical, [it] is perhaps not shocking but nonetheless disappointing.”

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Jasper Bernstein

Jasper Bernstein is the Associate News Editor for The Daily Cardinal. Follow him on Twitter at @jasperberns.

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