Budget cuts impact course offerings
By Andrew Keough
In an ideal world, students should never need to worry about state budgets.
They should be able to concentrate on what they are here for: learning.
Unfortunately, shadows of budget wars are already being cast on next semester’s courses.
The impact on students by several state budget reductions in recent years has been minimal, through conscientious effort by faculty and staff.
Most reductions have resulted in changes in our internal operations that impact students indirectly.
Even tuition was held constant for several years, though that changed this year.
The state is imposing a budget “lapse” on agencies including the UW System.
In essence, they have asked us to return some of the money that was promised to us for this year and next.
How much of the lapse will come out of UW-Fox’s budget is unknown at this time.
Recently the campus made a cautious decision to prepare in several ways for the likelihood of a lapse arriving in December.
One of those was the possibility of reductions in course offerings.
Because registration began in mid-November, reductions then would result in cancellations after students were already registered.
In order to mitigate possible damage, the campus identified several courses to be immediately cancelled or put on hold until the lapse is better understood.
Unfortunately, some of these changes took place literally the day before registration began, causing confusion for some students.
Cancelled courses are always unfortunate, but at least straightforward, being no longer listed in our course schedules.
Courses that are held are more confusing, however, being listed in the Web course schedule as “FULL”, even though no students are enrolled.
Holding any course closed risks harming some students’ plans.
The held courses were chosen carefully to minimize the potential for such harm.
For example, we only held sections of courses where other sections were still available.
Other sections may not be as convenient, but that is better than holding the only section of some course.
I wish I could say that this is the last of the impacts that you will feel directly.
State support for the UW System has steadily decreased for decades, in both good and bad economic times and shows no sign of stabilizing.
If you want to decrease the impact on your courses, the change will need to take place at the state government level.
Administrators can only minimize the damage.
Andrew Keough is interim campus executive officer and dean at the University of Wisconsin’s Fox Valley campus.