UW Colleges announces new regional leadership approach

Budget reduction plan preserves high quality student experience
By UW Colleges

MADISON – Responding to historic budget cuts, the University of Wisconsin Colleges announced today it is adopting a new regional leadership approach that will significantly reduce overall costs while preserving the quality of its students’ educational experience.

“While our share of the overall UW System budget cut was eventually reduced, the nearly $5 million cut that we are left with is the largest in our history. The challenge we face is not new, but it is now acute. We can no longer avoid taking significant action,” said UW Colleges and UW-Extension Chancellor Cathy Sandeen. “The reforms we are developing, with extensive and valuable input from our internal and external stakeholders, will help UW Colleges position itself for the future.”

Under the new model, the 13 UW Colleges campuses will be grouped into four regions, with a single executive officer/dean for each region. One associate dean will be located on each campus and will oversee day-to-day operational needs. The four regions are: 

  • North: UW-Barron County (Rice Lake), UW-Marathon County (Wausau), UW-Marshfield/Wood County, and UW-Marinette 
  • Northeast: UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Fox Valley (Menasha), and UW-Manitowoc 
  • Southeast: UW-Sheboygan, UW-Washington County (West Bend), and UW-Waukesha 
  • Southwest: UW-Baraboo/Sauk County, UW-Richland (Richland Center), and UW-Rock County (Janesville)

“In making these changes, we are staying true to our key priorities and our mission: to ensure access, to provide the highest level of instruction and services to our students, and to uphold our commitment to the communities that invest in us,” Sandeen said. “I have been strongly committed throughout our budget reduction processes to protecting our academic program, which is our core mission.”

Only $100,000 (0.25%) will be cut from the instructional budget. No faculty positions will be eliminated. There will be no campus closures.

As part of the plan, UW Colleges will also consolidate or reorganize a variety of functions that are currently performed within campus administrative offices, including human resources, business, university relations, physical plant, dean’s office, and general administrative support.

It is expected that the equivalent of about 83 full-time positions will be eliminated, largely in campus administration. 

“These reforms within UW Colleges are the culmination of significant, thoughtful and long-term planning,” said UW System President Ray Cross. “I am confident the changes ahead will keep our UW Colleges and the UW System strong well into the future. We will continue to work with Chancellor Sandeen and others at UW Colleges as the reforms are implemented.”

Regent President Regina Millner said every UW System institution and campus community has been focused on helping manage the challenging budget reductions. “University leaders are thinking creatively and exploring every opportunity to achieve savings through meaningful transformations and reforms,” she said. “There are still significant steps to take, but the UW Colleges plan is a strong example of the UW System’s commitment to carefully examine how we can maintain a quality education for students by doing things differently outside of the classroom and lab.”

The UW Colleges’ budget went into effect July 1, 2015. To prepare, Chancellor Sandeen announced a first round of budget cut decisions in May. The second and deeper cuts were delayed until the state budget was finalized and UW Colleges’ portion of the UW System reduction was set at nearly $5 million. To accommodate the cuts and unfunded compensation commitments, UW Colleges now must reduce its annual budget by $5.6 million. 

Student Governance Council President Graham Pearce, a student at UW-Marshfield/Wood County, said, “I appreciate that the student experience has been the central focus in planning the UW Colleges’ response to budget cuts.” Pearce is one of the student representatives involved in planning for the implementation of budget cuts. 

“These decisions are both critical and extremely difficult,” Sandeen said. “We are consolidating and regionalizing our administrative functions so that we can keep our promise to Wisconsin students, families and communities to provide access to a high quality University of Wisconsin education.”

For more information, see UW Colleges Round 2 Budget Decisions Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).


UW Colleges is an institution of the University of Wisconsin System comprised of 13 campuses and UW Colleges Online. UW Colleges offers an Associate of Arts and Science degree and a single Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree. By providing an affordable, accessible education, UW Colleges prepares more than 14,000 students of all ages and backgrounds for success in some 200 baccalaureate and professional programs. While UW Colleges faculty and staff are employed by the UW System, municipalities and/or counties own the campuses and buildings in which the UW Colleges are located. UW-Extension serves Wisconsin families, businesses and communities statewide through offices in all 72 Wisconsin counties and three tribal nations, continuing education services through all 26 UW System campuses, the UW Flexible Option partnership with UW System campuses, the statewide broadcasting networks of Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television, and small business and entrepreneurship activities throughout the state.  Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/UWC_UWEX and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/uwex.uwc. 


Sandra Kallio