Legislature gives final approval to $45M in additional funding; budget forum, biking and service excellence

I am happy to report that the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on Wednesday approved an additional $45 million in funding for the University of Wisconsin System for the 2019-21 biennium. This money was included in the 2019-21 state budget that the Legislature approved, and the governor signed, earlier this year and which also included a provision requiring the UW System to submit to the committee a plan on how the money would be spent before it would be released.

There is some uncertainty as to how much UW-Stout will receive from this additional appropriation, and we will need to use about a third of our eventual allocation to pay for additional compensation for our employees.

I would like to thank our legislators and the governor for this appropriation, but it is also important to note that the amount is significantly less than what the UW System requested and Gov. Evers included in his budget proposal.

These are challenging economic times for UW-Stout and the entire UW System, and with tuition levels frozen for the seventh straight year we will need additional state aid to maintain the educational quality that our students have some to expect from UW-Stout.

Additional state aid also would allow us to help meet the workforce needs of our employers. This is a message we will continue to deliver to our legislative delegation as we look toward the 2021-23 budget discussions.

Thanks for attending this week’s budget forum

Speaking of finances, I want to thank all those who attended our budget forum or watched it online on Tuesday. I also want to thank my co-presenters, interim Provost Glendali Rodriguez and Vice Chancellor Phil Lyons, for working so hard on this forum and doing an exceptional job laying out our situation and possible ways forward.

A number of faculty and staff asked some very insightful questions and offered some constructive suggestions on how we can address our significant budget challenges.

I appreciated the feeling of collegiality I felt in the room. As I indicated at the forum, we will form a committee to collect and review suggestions from campus members. We also will proceed on meeting these challenges with as much transparency as possible.

In that spirit, for those campus members who want to review the presentation, it is available here. We will do everything possible to keep the campus informed as this process moves forward.

Bicycling is a great way to get to work

 Even though the weather is turning fall-like, let’s talk bicycling. As interim chancellor, it is often not easy to bike to work — as a three-mile ride in a suit can get a bit clammy. However, I try to ride whenever I can for both the exercise and for the sake of the environment.

UW-Stout has several programs to support bike riders. One example is a parking program. Bicyclists who primarily commute to campus by bike can get eight courtesy day permits per semester and then discounts on other parking options during the winter. If interested in exploring this option, contact Parking Services at parking@uwstout.edu.

If you need a bike, UW-Stout offers a StoutBikes bike share program. The rentals, offered through Stout Adventures, have a variety of options and come with a helmet, lock and lights.

There also are options to park your bike, ranging from the racks outside of campus buildings to two bike lockers — one at CKTO residence hall and the other outside Heritage Hall.

If your bike needs a quick tuneup, there are bike fix stations with tools and air pumps to help get you back on the road.

More details on UW-Stout’s biking programs are available here.

I should note that in 2016 the League of American Bicyclists named UW-Stout a Bike Friendly University. I hope to see you on the street or trail!

Program intended to boost service excellence

Finally, I know you received a memo from me in September about the StoutProud Service Excellence events that begin today, but I think it’s worth emphasizing how important I believe this effort is for our campus.

The intent is to provide our employees with additional tools to ensure that we are providing our students, faculty, staff and the public with the best service possible. The goals are to:

• Infuse customer service excellence into the UW-Stout culture

• Engage recruitment and retention efforts through the provision of service that delights

• Boost employee engagement and satisfaction.

The events run through Wednesday, Oct. 16. Visit the StoutProud Service Excellence Event Calendar to find an overview of events and to register.

I’d also like to remind the campus that Stout Proud Fridays are returning as of Oct. 11. Employees are encouraged to show their pride by wearing UW-Stout colors (blue and white) and/or apparel to work. This is a great opportunity to share in the spirit of our university.

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