Maintenance will face the chopping block before academics as University of Wisconsin administrators work to make up for a $300 million slash in state funding over the next two years.
Some students have mourned the demolition of the pedestrian bridge formerly connecting Vilas Hall and the George L. Mosse Humanities building.
But UW spokesperson Greg Bump said nonacademic projects like maintenance on the aging bridge, which would have cost $1.5 million to replace, will see more cuts than academic units.
Tearing down the bridge was a capital business decision made to save the money to spend on other projects, said UW Facilities, Planning and Management Associate Vice Chancellor Bill Elvey.
“There are always business decisions like that being made,” Elvey said. “It’s always about priorities and budgets.”
Elvey said due to the cuts, money for service or custodial jobs has been reduced in academic and research buildings around campus.
Elvey said some buildings, especially newer ones, on campus saw more custodial service than others. These newer buildings will now see the same amount of maintenance as other buildings on campus.
“Life goes on,” he said. “We are just going to have to deal with that. I think people in those buildings may notice the reduction, but on the other hand, we are just going to have to treat all the buildings the same now.”
Elvey said the service positions that were eliminated were all vacant positions that now will not be filled. Approximately 55 vacant positions were eliminated and about 53 of them were custodial positions.
Though money for service has been reduced, the frequency in which buildings will all be cleaned will be the same, as well as the level of maintenance provided to all of the buildings, he said.
Elvey said the upkeep for all of the buildings will remain the same as well. There is still funding for maintenance such as changing lightbulbs, periodically painting walls in buildings and fixing other maintenance issues, he said.
But Bump said academics still faces cuts.
Each school, college and other divisions created a reduction plan before submitting their plans to the university’s senior leadership, Bump said. The chancellor, provost and vice chancellor for finance and administration reviewed the plans.
Bump said the different schools and colleges submitted the plans to protect the programs with the greatest impact for students. The focus continues to be on UW’s primary goal of educating students and the state, Bump said.
“The implementation of the cuts was up to the discretion of the dean of the school or college, or the director of the division, who know best which programs can be reduced without jeopardizing those core principles,” Bump said.