Vice President of Administration Bill Mai spoke at Tuesday’s ASUW meeting discussing the state fiscal shortfall and the consequences it may have on the university.
Upon Gov. Matt Mead announcing the state faces up to a $200 million budget shortfall the university has implemented hiring and spending freezes that could have ripping effects into tuition, salaries and campus construction.
“Unfortunately we are going the wrong direction,” Mai said. “We have to turn this thing around and figure out a real way to have these kinds of reserves. We are trying to shutdown everything that isn’t necessary.”
Mai said he encouraged continuing a yearly 4 percent increase in student tuition, which is a policy the UW board of trustees passed in fall of 2014. However, the policy is designed so the increases can be greater than 4 percent, as last year tuition spiked 5 percent.
The 4 percent totals to just over $2 million, of which half is allocated to promotion raises and salary raises of tenured professors.
“It’s a lot to pay to a lot of us, but when you spread it across the staff and faculty it doesn’t go very far,” he said. “We have to target upcoming professors to be sure we don’t lose our stars.”
The remaining 2 percent addresses special needs and special cases regarding salary issues, Mai said. Currently 1 percent is being allocated to the arts and sciences programs.
“If not this year, you will see that money spread a little more evenly throughout college,” Mai said.
The last portion of the tuition increase will go toward the university libraries and the IT department.
“Probably all of you have experienced dead spots or slow spots on campus,” he said. “We are working hard to address the issues.”
Originally student resource fees were frozen and could not be accessed in lieu of the state budget shortfall; however, Wednesday morning the fees were released, ASUW Director of Governmental Affairs Grant Rogers said.
The construction of the STEM building will not be effected by the fiscal situation; however, Mai said there is a prioritization of development on campus.
“Engineering will be fantastic – the legislature wants the university to focus on engineering,” he said. “It’s a land grant school – engineering is very important.”
Mai added the search for a strong university president is crucial at a time when UW President McGinity is stepping down and the state is enduring fiscal problems.
“This presidential search should unfold in a good, strong president,” he said. “It’s critical this place get the right president to take the reins.”
Mai said further budget plans will be discussed at the next board of trustee’s meeting starting Nov. 18.
Other items addressed at the meeting:
• RSO funding board requests were not addressed at the meeting as they had been frozen at the time. Now that the monies have been released, Rogers said the requests will be addressed at the upcoming meeting Tuesday.
• Senate bill 2476 was overwhelmingly passed. The bill strikes from the ASUW constitution the requirement for senators to complete an ASUW presentation in classrooms.
“While there were a few senators that very much supported keeping that, I think a lot of senators understood that isn’t the most effective outreach,” Rogers said. “It is a form of outreach. It doesn’t hinder senators from standing up in class and mentioning events.”
• The senate resolved to support the UW staff senate proposal to reconsider regulations on e-cigarettes. If passed, Staff senate resolution 210 will put the same restrictions of tobacco products on e-cigarettes.
• The senate passed a resolution to accept a “limited tuition increase for the fiscal year of 2017.” This will be further discussed in the faculty senate meeting Oct. 26, Rogers said.
“Tuition will be considered from every angle before it’s actually increased,” Rogers said.