Not ‘extra money’
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently released a report detailing significant funds in the UW System. Since then there has been a number of news reports and releases on the system-wide amounts and individual campus balances. I want to share my perspective on the share of these balances related to UW–Platteville.
The characterization that this university is sitting on extra money is not accurate; rather we have been diligent in planning for the future financial needs of the university. UW–Platteville did end the 2011–12 fiscal year with approximately $24.5 million in fund balances. This is money maintained in anticipation of UW-Platteville fiscal needs and has been pointed out in a number of campus-wide budget presentations since August.
Here are the highlights of our proposed financial plans for these funds:
• $950,000 — committed for compensation increases this year. The financial plan is to grow internal compensation over the next several years, to get to at least $1 million annually by 2017
• Resources for at least 11 new faculty positions, along with positions for planning and assessment, the Registrar’s office, and First Year Experience. The addition of new staff is directly correlated with the growth on campus.
• $4.9 million — one-year reserve for debt service to ensure that the university can make payments on its new facilities.
Funds in anticipation of associated costs:
• $2.5 million — purchasing equipment for Bridgeway Commons.
• $2.3 million — technology upgrades including classrooms.
• $553,000 — required payment to the state for the budget lapse.
• More than $1 million to pay for contracts already in place.
• $2.1 million — college and division funding for equipment purchases, provide professional development, and to invest in new initiatives.
These balances are a result of careful stewardship and a proactive approach to monitoring our resources. Since 2010, UW–Platteville utilized a five-year modeling approach to budgeting. We have been conservative in our spending and revenue projections. The university, appropriately, I think, only spends the funds we currently hold in our accounts. Since our primary sources of revenue, state funds and the tuition and fees our students pay, are potentially volatile while our bills are not, it is financially sound to have balances at the end of each year.
Let me restate: The characterization that the university is sitting on extra money is not accurate; rather we have been diligent in planning for the future financial needs of the university. Our financial planning is prudent, and includes investing in compensation, additional faculty and staff, and academic programs to support student success and economic development in the region.
We will work with UW System leadership, the Board of Regents, the Legislature, and the governor to shape a system-wide policy on the purpose, nature, and size of balances and reserve funds. I think we can all agree that the goal is a fiscally sound UW System and that UW–Platteville is able to deliver a high quality education at a reasonable cost to students and the citizens of the State of Wisconsin.
I encourage you to take the time to look at the information about the balances as of the end of fiscal year 2011–12. Details about the budget balances were distributed in August and financial updates were provided to members of the university community in October and early April. The information is available at www.uwplatt.edu/budget/presentations.html.
Dennis J. Shields
Many people in the community have expressed their sadness over the death of Richard Brockman and admiration of his contributions. His classmates, the Platteville High School Class of 1965, would like to add ourselves to that group list.
Richard was our class president, a job he did not take lightly and a job that certainly didn’t end on graduation day. Over the years he made it his mission as president to assemble us every five years at reunions, more often than not financially supplying the little extras to make the time together enjoyable for everyone.
Many of us over the years have been the recipients of his emails full of ’50s memorabilia and funny stories, and we’ll miss that connection … unless they have emails in heaven.
Richard, your tenure as president is over, but the position will never be filled again. Your friendship will forever be a part of our lives. Thank you, Mr. President.
The Platteville High School
Class of 1965
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