Office of the President
Kevin P. Reilly, President
February 22, 2005
Inn on the Park, Madison, WI
Thank you, Fariba (Pendleton). Good morning everyone. My thanks to you for inviting me to be a part of Superior Days. Over 20 years, your annual journey to Madison has developed into perhaps the most successful advocacy activity in the state, and all citizens of northern Wisconsin owe a lot to your combined efforts. Dave Olsen said he had hair when this all started youíve been at it so long.
Let me pay special recognition to Fariba and her Douglas County Extension colleagues. They have done a marvelous job of coordinating Superior Days Ė not just this year, but every year since 1984! Letís give them a round of applause.
Some have said that "professors are folks who talk in other peopleís sleep." Well, given the early hour, I will try my best to be brief and to keep you awake! I also want to give you time to ask questions and I very much want to hear your ideas and views on how the UW System, UW-Superior, and the state of Wisconsin can best work together to serve our students and citizens.
I met with a number of you last October during the Board of Regents meeting at UW-Superior, and even from that brief visit, it was clear how vital UW-Superior is to the local community and surrounding area, and by the way, I was back up at UW-Superior this January for the second semester opening of the convocation on campus!†The strong academics, economic development contributions, outreach and extension programs, and cultural opportunities are all great examples of how the UW System is critical to the quality of life in our state. †
Youíre in Madison for the next few days because the biennial budget season has officially begun. I suspect that the more we all talk, the more weíll discover that the UW System and your own group and interests have similar priorities for this budget biennium.
Late last summer, the Board of Regents set forth our Student Access and Wisconsin Success priorities in its budget request, and weíre encouraged that, in many respects, the Governorís Budget was also very student-focused.
The Governorís intention to reinvest $49 million of state tax dollars in the university system will begin to reverse the trend of damaging state funding cuts from previous budgets.
Students and families will benefit from the Governorís proposals to increase financial aid, to restore 125 faculty teaching positions, and to make sure tuition rates are manageable and predictable.
In the next several months, we will be working with members of the Joint Committee on Finance and with our campus legislators, including Representative Boyle and Senator Jauch, to make sure these initiatives are funded, and others improved upon, in the final budget.
As an aside, let me personally thank Frank and Bob for all their work on our behalf. As many of you know, Bob has been instrumental in gaining support for operating revenues for the Aquaculture demonstration facility operated by UW-Superior. And, Frank has stood strong with us, including having the strength this past Sunday to celebrate his 60th birthday! And the lad doesnít look a day over 40. Now, thatís a Superior Representative.† Bob and Frank are both Superior legislators!† As is Gary Sherman, whom I saw here this morning.
Returning to the Governorís proposed budget, let me point out that there are, several elements that pose significant challenges for us.
First, the Governorís proposal would require us to cut 200 more administrative positions to the tune of $35 million. This is on top of the more than 225 administrative positions weíve lost in previous biennia. For some of our campuses, and I suspect UW-Superior is among them, these cuts, if they were to hold, would seriously reduce the academic and student support services we provide our students. In effect, we would be doing less with less.
The Governorís budget does not address the issue of a competitive faculty and staff pay plan. The best way for our institutions like UW-Superior to retain and recruit top-quality faculty and staff is to provide proper compensation. We are grateful for the Governorís support for domestic partner benefits and a faculty retention fund, but these are just a start. We will be working with the Joint Committee on Employment Relations to ensure we can properly compensate our faculty and staff.
We must also work to ensure that tuition increases are moderate and predictable, and that they are accompanied by sufficient increases in financial aid. The Governorís budget will help greatly there. Preserving the quality of the university, and making sure students have access to it, go hand in hand. This has been made much more difficult by the recent federal cutbacks in student financial assistance.
Our work is not finished. I look forward to working with Governor Doyle, the Legislature, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other UW stakeholders throughout Wisconsin to ensure that much-needed reinvestments in the UW System become a reality.
One of those investments will be a new academic building at UW-Superior. You have the UW Systemís support in ensuring this project goes forward and meets the needs of UW-Superior students. I applaud the campusí efforts to secure private funds as part of the funding for this project, and weíll be working with you to make this project a success story.
I want to take a moment to congratulate this group for the hard work you have put in to advocate for UW-Superior and Northern Wisconsin communities. In the past 20 years, youíve successfully advocated for a four-county Technology Development Zone, KUWS Public Radio, and the Lake Superior Research Institute. Your advocacy helps to educate lawmakers about the important role UW-Superior plays in your area, the "fruits" of which I saw when visiting the new Wellness Center on campus.
Many of you have heard my vision for this university: We are the stateís premier developer of advanced human potential, of the jobs that employ that potential, and of the flourishing communities that sustain it. To further this vision, and to positively impact all of the efforts you have come here to champion, the university must be able to rebuild quality, remain competitive, keep college affordable, and enhance access.
I thank you for all your work to secure a bright future for the UW-Superior community, the citizens of Northern Wisconsin, and people all across this great state.
Thank you for your time. I would be happy to take any questions that you have, and Go Yellowjackets!