Despite Wall Street’s less-than-stellar opening on Monday after a four-day sabbatical imposed because of the attacks on Washington and New York, UW-Madison’s assets will remain well-funded.
Last week the UW Foundation reported the value of its assets at the end of last year had soared to more than $1 billion for the first time ever. The UW Foundation, which raises money from alumni and others to fund a variety of programs and projects, had a banner year in 2000.
Even as the economy nears recession, the Foundation’s contributions continue to increase.
“We’re way ahead of last year,” said Sandy Wilcox, president of the UW Foundation. “The number of gifts is up from last year, but we can sense a slowdown,”
The value of the Foundation’s assets took a hit this week, as the stock market experienced a large point loss after last week’s attacks.
“If the stock market went down 5 percent, you could assume the value of our assets went down 5 percent,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox also said that short-term swings in the market will not affect funding for the university, as the foundation pays out funds every three years.
State funding also rose significantly in this year’s budget. The UW system received a $60-million increase from last year. In addition, UW-Madison received $8 million this year to fund the Madison Initiative.
“[The UW System] fared extremely well, compared with other programs,” said Debbie Monterrey-Millett, Gov. Scott McCallum’s press secretary.
Though the university protested the size of the increase, asking for more funding, Gov. McCallum has tried to impose fiscal restraints on all state agencies.
“If the governor granted every funding increase agencies asked for, the state would already be in bankruptcy,” Monterrey-Millett said.
Though the state may face significant decreases in revenue over the next few years, Monterrey-Millet said the governor is confident he has positioned the state to live within its means.
UW Vice Chancellor John Torphy said that even in tight economic times, the university will lobby for new program funding.
“A relevant issue for the state taxpayers is what part of this increase in the university’s budget has brought us something new,” he said.
Robert Haveman, UW economics professor, said that the declining economy would not have an effect on the university’s budget in the near future.
“The university is pretty well insulated against adverse effects of the economic downturn,” he said. “The biennium budget is set.”
Haveman added that tuition is another source of revenue for UW.
“Tuition is set for the next two years. And the number of students wanting to go to the university goes up when the economy is bad.”
In-state tuition increased by 8.4 percent this academic year, despite calls over the years by student groups and the legislature to cap tuition increases at 5 or 6 percent.
The next time the state of Wisconsin will decide on funding for the university will be in 2003.