Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

UWO faces an $18 million budget deficit

Faculty expect to see an increase in teaching loads
Anya Kelley / The Advance-Titan — The $18 million budget deficit that UWO is facing is rooted in declining higher education enrollment, an aging demographic and declining state support.

UW Oshkosh is facing an $18 million structural deficit and is planning 200 non-faculty layoffs and additional furlough periods to cut expenses for the 2023-24 academic year.

In an Aug. 3 email, Chancellor Andrew Leavitt described the state of UWO’s finances as “no longer sustainable for us to operate without dramatic reduction in expenses.” 

Declining higher education participation in Wisconsin, an aging demographic in the state, declining state support and the major inflation of the post-pandemic world were root causes for the deficit, he said.

Because state support has declined, UWO is forced to be more reliant than ever on tuition payments, he said. 

“The increased reliance on tuition revenue, further exacerbated by a decade-long tuition freeze, … caused us to consume precious reserves,” Leavitt said. 

At this time, the reserves are about to be completely depleted. 

The university is laying out what they are calling the Institutional Realignment Plan (IRP). Those efforts include furloughs, workforce adjustments and additional budget reductions and restructuring opportunities.

The number of furlough days each person must take depends on salary. Employees making below $33,000 will be exempt and those making $150,000 and above will be required to take 19 days, a 10% reduction of bi-weekly pay.

Staff and faculty have also been offered a Voluntary Retirement Incentive Options Program (VRIOP) in order to save costs. More information about this program is available on the IRP website. 

Leavitt said the “layoffs and non-renewals are unavoidable,” and that “[UWO] will review and possibly discontinue any self-supporting programs that do not recover costs.” 

Not surprisingly, this plan has university staff and faculty concerned. 

In an Aug. 23 email, Provost Edwin Martini said most faculty should expect an increase in their workload in the 2024-25 academic year. 

“Most faculty should expect to see an increase in their teaching loads beginning in the spring 2024 semester and continuing into the 2024-25 academic year,” Martini said.

Though faculty members will not be laid off, Instructional Academic Staff (IAS) positions will “diminish significantly” in the coming year. 

While UWO is not looking to cut any academic programs at this time, it is important that the teaching quality stays the same so as to not negatively impact the students, Martini said.

“The changes we institute this year will result in us looking very different overall as an academy and as a university in the years ahead, but it is important to reinforce that the changes we implement will differentially impact areas of academic affairs,” he said. 

Leavitt and Martini said they are committed to sending out weekly updates to the university community in the fall, and have created a website dedicated to the IRP.

“In short, we are building ‘UWO 2.0,’” Martini said. “And we are designing with the end in mind.”


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