UWS develops strategic plan to evaluate missionUWS is developing a strategic plan as it prepares to tighten its financial belt. The goal is to right size the budget, prioritize programs and re-examine the mission.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
UWS is developing a strategic plan as it prepares to tighten its financial belt. The goal is to right size the budget, prioritize programs and re-examine the mission.
“We have a curriculum larger than the budget,” said Janet Hanson, vice chancellor of administration and finance. Funding reductions are on the horizon. A state budget cut of $810,000 will hit the university in the 2014-2015 school year — it would have landed this year, but UW System gave UWS and UW-Parkside, its smallest institutions, a reprieve because of low reserve balances. In addition, tuition rates are frozen statewide and the UW System Board of Regents this month approved a new policy requiring individual UW institutions carry at least a 10 percent reserve balance at the end of the school year. At UWS, that would mean doubling the reserve balance of about $1.5 million, Hanson said. Overall, the campus is looking at a looming structural deficit of $2 million, Hanson said.
The school is tackling finance issues head-on, according to an email by Chancellor Renee Wachter to staff and faculty. They are implementing recruitment strategies, concentrating on student retention and examining programs.
“We also know that we literally cannot be all things to all people and need to focus,” she wrote. “We need to be able to strategically invest in innovation, our people and our students.”
It’s time to spotlight gems like the transportation and logistics program, and identify other programs that could be gems, said UWS spokeswoman Lynne Williams.
Both the campus and community are asked to weigh in on the public liberal arts university: What does it do well? Where does it need to grow? What areas is it struggling in?
Committees have formed on campus and surveys were sent to business leaders and alumni to gauge the institution’s weaknesses and strengths. The business survey, for example, asks what job skills college graduates will need in the next five to 10 years, and which areas of study are most relevant to the business’ employment needs.
The last time the college went through a strategic planning process was 2008.
A plan is not just an attempt to trim the budget, Hanson said. It is a chance for a campus-wide review of where program areas can grow and chance to set clear, assessable goals for the future.
“There are going to have to be some tough decisions that need to be made,” Williams said, but the process has the potential to provide a clear, focused direction and energize the campus. The launch of the strategic planning process comes on the heels of an increase in salary for Wachter and 13 other chancellors. The UW-System Board of Regents approved the salary adjustments on Oct. 10. The move upped Wachter’s salary to $205,450 — an increase of $8,500 or about 4.3 percent. The salary adjustments were part of the board’s effort to address competitive compensation challenges across the UW System, according to a news release.
For the time being, a number of vacant positions on campus will remain empty to temporarily cover the upcoming $810,000 cut, Hanson said. More information on the strategic planning process is available at www.uwsuper.edu. Strategic planning is listed under the “about” tab or searching for “superior visions.”