Bracing for more financial losses associated with COVID-19, the University of Wisconsin System announced on Tuesday a series of additional cost-cutting measures for its roughly 600 administrative employees, including some layoffs.
Interim System President Tommy Thompson estimated the actions over the next two fiscal years will save more than $10 million, half of which will go toward a new scholarship program for underrepresented students and the other half to offset some of the losses associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
Laying off an untold number of System administration employees and leaving some vacancies unfilled will save the System about $6 million through June 2022 and represents a 10% cut to state-supported salaries. Thompson told reporters in a call that he did not know how many people would lose their jobs.
Other measures include limiting out-of-state travel through June 30, reducing supplies and eliminating some sponsorships and subscriptions.
The System’s latest cuts come on top of the System administration employees taking one furlough day each month through the end of June, saving about $3 million.
Thompson announced the measures Tuesday to get “everybody prepared that there will be further cuts in the university budget.”
Gov. Tony Evers ordered a $250 million budget cut to all state agencies, which includes the System. Thompson is negotiating how much of that will come from campuses.
The System bore the brunt of a budget cut last spring, losing $40.7 million of a $70 million statewide cut.
Thompson’s latest measures are separate from cost-cutting plans in place at the 13 universities, all of which have furloughed employees.
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said at a faculty committee meeting on Monday that the university had taken most all of the cost-savings measures that it can at this point, including furloughs, pay cuts for leaders and travel restrictions, which were extended indefinitely last week.
When enrollment numbers come in and the state budget picture becomes more clear, UW-Madison will reassess its budget this fall, she said.
The System’s new scholarship program begins in fall 2021 and will cost about $4 million in the first two years.
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