MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Proposed budget cuts would force the University of WisconsinSystem to cut academic programs and impede its plans to educatemore students and do more research, university officials warnedThursday.
President Kevin Reilly said the Growth Agenda - a long-termplan in which campuses boost enrollments, expand some academicprograms and improve research - would be slowed under Gov. JimDoyle's budget.
He said the budget requires the system to cut $120 million,or about as much as the state pays to educate 14,000 undergraduatesin one year. Campuses would have to transfer another $54 million inrevenue and savings from self-supported operations, such asresidence halls, to help balance the state budget.
"The cuts are real, and they are very challenging," Reillytold the UW System Board of Regents. "Cuts of this magnitude willcertainly impact our plans to grow enrollments and may well hurtthe education our current students receive."
University officials promised to lobby lawmakers and thegovernor to have them restore some of the money. At the same time,they praised Doyle's efforts to expand financial aid and set aside$15 million to retain top faculty and staff.
The regents approved guidelines Thursday for campuses tofollow as they develop budget-cutting plans. They include mergingor eliminating unpopular or unnecessary academic programs, reducingtravel and hiring, and slowing down the Growth Agenda, which Reillyhas championed to increase the number of Wisconsin residents withcollege degrees.
Growth Agenda plans include expanding research atUW-Milwaukee, allowing UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout to educate morestudents in science and technology, establishing more nursingprograms, educating more adults through night classes andincreasing enrollment at UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay.
The budget Doyle signed in 2007 included money to start someof the initiatives. But the one he proposed last week does notinclude any of the $29 million the regents wanted to continue theprogram.
Reilly said tuition would have to be increased systemwide by17 percent to offset the proposed cuts, but he promised that wouldnot happen. The tuition increases approved in July will be moderateand "will not come close to filling the budget gap as it nowstands," he said.
Three UW System chancellors warned the regents that cutswould be painful.
UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin said she asked deans onher campus to make plans to cut 5 percent from their budgets, aboutthe amount required under Doyle's plan. It would mean fewer facultyand academic staff and less funding for graduate students in everycollege, she said.
Martin also said UW-Madison would have to limit the number ofstudents who major in economics, chemistry, biology and Spanish andreduce admissions into some colleges, such as nursing. Mandatorycourses for some majors would become less available, forcingstudents to stay in school longer to get a degree, Martin warned.
A reduction in faculty also would mean up to $20 million lessin federal research money for the university every year, she said.Martin said the estimates were a worst-case scenario that she hopeswon't come to pass.
"Let us take our share of the pain, but let us not underminethe extraordinary quality of a UW-Madison or a UW System degree,"she said.
David Wilson, chancellor of UW Colleges and UW Extension, andUW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow said Doyle's plan for balancing thestate budget was unfair.
Gow said it would force UW-La Crosse to give up money fromstudent fees that had been saved for dormitory projects andmaintenance. The UW Extension would have to transfer some donationsmade for public broadcasting and television and fees counties payfor services, Wilson said. That would antagonize its supporters, hesaid.
"The proposed budget cuts can have a tremendously severe anddebilitating effect on us," Wilson said.
But Regent David Walsh, a close ally of the governor, warnedagainst protesting the cuts too much given the dire shape of theeconomy.
"Of course, it's going to hurt everybody. We're all going tohave to tighten our belts," he said. "But I promise you when youlook around this economy, it's bad."
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