Friday, March 8, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, responding to action taken by the Joint Finance Committee, voted to suspend undergraduate admissions at all of its 26 campuses, including UW-Marathon County. The suspension may remain in effect until there is assurance that UW System will be able to have financial resources needed to accommodate enrollments.<p>In taking this action, Regent President Jay Smith noted that the suspension was temporary and that he hoped it would be lifted. I concur with this sentiment. I sympathize with the hundreds of students and parents in Marathon County who are eager to see the admissions process move forward.<p>I have instructed our Student Services staff to continue to review pending applications and to expedite as quickly as possible action on those applications once the suspension is lifted. In the meantime, I would urge students who aim for a UW degree, to proceed with their applications – whether to UWMC or elsewhere. I would also encourage them to enroll in UWMC’s summer session, since that will not be affected by this moratorium.<p>This is a year when students need to submit their applications as early as possible. UWMC’s target enrollment for this year is the same as last year – a headcount of approximately 1,300 and a FTE (full-time equivalent) of 966 – yet applications as of last Friday were running about 12 percent ahead of last year at this time.<p>When the governor introduced his budget repair bill with a $50 million reduction in funding for UW System, the regents acted responsibly and with restraint, offering to absorb this cut. The Joint Finance Committee’s action to cut even deeper – an additional $20 million – undermines the ability of all UW institutions to fulfill their mission and accommodate enrollments as planned. We simply will not have the financial resources for needed classes and student support services.<p>The most recent action by Assembly Republicans, cutting advertising, travel and study abroad programs by an additional $22 million, only exacerbates the problem, and would bring the total cuts to the UW System to $92 million.<p>I would urge students and parents to contact area lawmakers to voice their concern and to urge a quick and satisfactory resolution to this budget crisis.<p>UW System has acted responsibly in its willingness to absorb a very large cut. We can’t go beyond this without limiting enrollments statewide and without long-term damage to all campuses. That’s the bottom line.<p>Higher education is part of the solution to our current economic problems. Sound public policy for higher education cannot be set through partisan politics and political infighting. It is the students who will suffer as a result. We need a common sense approach to the problem, a solution that is based on what is best for students and for Wisconsin.<p>Jim Veninga
UW-Marathon Campus Dean
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