Thompson aims for $10 million in administration cuts, more opportunities for minority students

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MADISON — (WKBT) — University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson announced initiatives Tuesday aimed at cutting administrative costs and improving opportunities for minority students.
“To be the university’s biggest advocate and toughest evaluator, I will be directing my leadership to identify administrative savings now while championing investments for underrepresented and underserved populations,” Thompson said.

Tommy Thompson


Cost reductions for the UW System administration, along with $1.3 million in savings from administration furloughs, are expected to save more than $10 million through fiscal year 2022, said Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor who is the UW System’s interim president.
The reductions include:
• A 10 percent cut in the system administration’s state-supported salary line totaling $6.0 million.
• Limiting out-of-state travel through June 30, 2021, and reducing supplies and equipment, for estimated savings of $2.4 million.
• Eliminating several memberships, sponsorships and subscriptions.
• Using virtual administration meetings to achieve additional savings.
“These budget reductions are designed to streamline our operations and ensure the UW System Administration can come out of the pandemic stronger by focusing resources on students,” Thompson said.
The cost savings affect system’s administration and not the system’s 13 universities, which have embarked on their own cost-savings measures, including furloughs and staff reductions.
Enhancing opportunities for underrepresented and underserved students is a Board of Regents priority, Nelson said.
The system will administer a new Wisconsin Regents Opportunity Scholarship for underrepresented and underserved students to attend UW System universities.
The scholarship initiative will provide hundreds of students access to affordable higher education through a $1 million appropriation annually, as well as boost support programs such as counseling, internships and mentorships that are critical to student success.
The scholarships will begin in the fall semester of 2021 and increase by $1 million annually. During the first two years, the program is projected to cost about $4 million.
Thompson also named Chris Navia, who is associate vice president for student success, as acting special assistant to the president for equity, diversity and inclusion. Navia will oversee a $1 million system-wide diversity initiative that seeks to recruit more underrepresented and underserved students.
The position will become permanent when someone is hired to fill it.