UW-Oshkosh plans to reduce more faculty positions

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Thursday, October 11, 2018. (WLUK/Pafoua Yang)

OSHKOSH (WLUK) --Concerns among UW-Oshkosh faculty are rising as the school plans to reduce positions.

"The impact is going to be on the students, and that's unfortunate," said political science professor, David Siemers.

Siemers said faculty work load would go up; he blames the significant reduction in state support.

"This is an intentional financial crisis of the states choosing, we didn't create that problem," said Siemers.

Siemers said more classes for each faculty member means less attention for each student, and a less quality education.

Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said the move is needed for the school's expenses to be in line with revenue.

"We’re not looking to cut anyone, per say, it's more the case of, as positions become available we simply don’t refill them," said Leavitt.

Leavitt said the school has already reduced more than 100 positions in the last four years.

"We’re down about 1,800 students undergraduate students in the last five years. So as a result we simply cannot support the same size faculty and staff," said Leavitt.

Looking at the 6 fall semesters prior to the current one, there was a 15% decline in enrollment. The university said that's essentially a loss of nearly $10 million.

However, Leavitt said there has been an uptick of first year students this year.

"We're in fact up in enrollment in the last year, we've been able to operate at this level of staffing for the last 5 years, so why all of a sudden do we need to let people go right?" Siemers questioned.

"This is a situation that we need the remedy and we’re taking steps to do that," Leavitt said.

As for students, they just hope they're in good hands.

"As a student for myself, I hope that's not going to affect what I have to take in the future," freshman, Harrison Morphey said.

The Chancellor said the school has a shortfall of $7 million and its central reserves and fund balances can't regenerate fast enough to offset the cost.

State Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) jumped in the debate, releasing a statement Friday. Hintz points a finger at Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) for the cuts.

During the 2nd longest period of economic expansion in our country’s history, our state should be making long term investments in public education, as many other states have already done. Instead, Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans continue to dismantle UW System through self-inflicted cuts.

Hintz also said the loss of faculty will come at the expense of student learning and future opportunity.

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