County critical of Governor's UW cuts (copy)

The University of Wisconsin College system's 13 campuses, including UW-Baraboo/Sauk County, will be grouped into four regions under a restructuring plan officials announced Tuesday. The Baraboo campus will be part of the southwest region, which also includes UW-Richland and UW-Rock County.

The University of Wisconsin Colleges will lay off more than 80 employees in a cost-cutting move that will see the network of two-year schools consolidate administration of its 13 campuses into four regions of the state, officials announced Tuesday.

The move is one result of a $5 million cut to the college system’s funding — its share of a $250 million reduction in support for the University of Wisconsin System in the state budget Gov. Scott Walker signed last week.

The equivalent of 83 full-time positions will be cut, most of them in administration, officials said.

Chancellor Cathy Sandeen, who oversees UW Colleges and Extension, stressed that no faculty jobs will be eliminated and no campuses would be closed, saying officials have worked to minimize the cuts’ impact on students.

Still, she said the cut is “huge for us.” In May, before the state budget was finalized and campuses knew their share of the reduction, Sandeen told the State Journal a similar restructuring plan would be a “worst-case scenario.”

“A $5 million cut to an organization that’s already very lean and efficient is significant,” Sandeen said Tuesday.

Under the plan, UW Colleges will hire a group of administrators to oversee three to four campuses in their region rather than having each campus employ its own administrators.

The regions’ campuses are:

  • Southwest: Baraboo/Sauk County, Richland and Rock County.
  • Southeast: Sheboygan, Washington County and Waukesha.
  • Northeast: Fond du Lac, Fox Valley and Manitowoc.
  • North: Barron County, Marathon County, Marshfield/Wood County and Marinette.

The changes will reduce the number of campus deans from 13 to 4, Sandeen said, and do the same for positions such as associate dean for academic and student affairs and director of university relations. Most campuses will lose about six positions apiece, Sandeen said, though UW-Barron County and UW-Marinette will not have to cut as many positions.

Nearly 14,000 students attend UW Colleges.

The plan announced Tuesday is the second phase of cost-saving measures at the colleges, which rolled out plans to cut $2.6 million in May that included consolidating admissions, financial aid and several other services into “one-stop shops” on campus.

As the changes are implemented, UW Colleges will spend about $6 million from funding reserves to cover expenses for the current fiscal year.

Officials have discussed grouping campuses into regions since 2013, but Sandeen said the most recent state budget meant they could “no longer avoid taking significant action.”

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Nico Savidge is the higher education reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.