Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Lyall announces immediate hiring freeze for UW System

Bracing for the most devastating budget cuts in the history of the UW System, President Katharine C. Lyall has ordered an immediate hiring freeze for all 26 UW campuses.

In a memo Tuesday, Lyall instructed UW chancellors not to fill vacant positions and to begin working on contingency budget plans in preparation for if the Legislature follows through with cuts proposed by Assembly Republicans over the weekend.

The cuts, which include proposals from Gov. Scott McCallum, the Joint Committee on Finance and Assembly Republicans, total about $120 million and will be taken up by the Assembly today.

Officials said they would try to make the best of the dire situation and avoid layoffs by leaving vacant positions unfilled.

“We’re not considering layoffs in any situation,” Provost Peter Spear said. “I hope it won’t come to that point. I’m optimistic that it won’t come to that point.”

Many campuses have withheld filling vacancies since the initial budget cut proposal of $51 million.

“This just formalizes what has been happening on the campuses already,” Erik Christianson, spokesperson for UW Systems said.

However, chancellors were advised to fill critical positions, such as deans or necessary faculty.

“In any given year, there are a number of positions that become vacant through retirement or someone leaving the university,” Spear said. “These may occur in small departments or programs that involve personnel who are highly specialized and critical to department operations. These may be a priority for us to fill.”

Spear said most ongoing searches to fill vacant faculty lines would continue.

Lyall expressed concern that the cuts left universities with little time to prepare.

“When the state cut the university by $33 million in 1995-96, we had more than a year to plan for those cuts,” Lyall said. “Right now, the more than $100 million in cuts on the table would go into effect in four months.”

Lyall said these cuts follow three decades of declining support for the UW System. When adjusted for inflation, the university’s state budget is about the same as it was in 1992, while the state budget has grown 75 percent.

She said 85 percent of the university’s budget is tied up in salaries, and such a large proposed cut would put a significant number of university positions on the chopping block.

“We realize that enrollment cuts and associated cuts in our workforce will be very damaging not only to campuses but to their local communities as well,” Lyall said. “These are brain-gain jobs, good-paying jobs. We would hate to see them lost.”

The budget proposal follows a decade in which UW has sustained $55 million in base budget cuts, said UW System Board of Regents President Jay Smith.

“. . .We have cut to the bone and beyond,” Smith said. “University leaders are talented managers, but they are not magicians.”

The hiring freeze comes on top of a recently instituted admissions freeze on all campuses.

“We are aware of the inconvenience and anxiety that this [admissions] freeze is causing prospective students and their families, and we are determined to find a way to admit as many students as the state will support,” Lyall said.

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