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Wisconsin Universities Recovery Plan: Overcoming $32 Million Reduction in Diversity Support

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Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes

Title: Universities of Wisconsin Unveil $32 Million Workforce Development Plan to Recover Budget Cuts

In a move to recover funds that were cut over campus diversity disputes, the Universities of Wisconsin have announced a comprehensive $32 million workforce development plan. Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Legislature voted to eliminate 188 diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) positions within the university system, resulting in a $32 million budget cut. While Democratic Governor Tony Evers managed to protect the DEI positions using his partial veto power, he was unable to prevent the budget cut.

To regain the lost funding, the plan presented by UW President Jay Rothman directs funds towards four high-demand fields: engineering, healthcare, business, and computer science. Under the proposed spending plan, UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee will each receive $2.5 million annually, while the remaining 11 universities within the system will receive $1 million each. However, before it can be put into action, the proposal must first receive approval from the UW Board of Regents and the Legislature’s budget committee.

Nevertheless, Republican leaders have been adamant in their calls to reduce the university system’s DEI spending. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has pledged to withhold pay raises for UW employees until the university system cuts DEI spending by $32 million. Vos has made it clear that he will only consider the workforce plan once changes are made to the diversity programming within the university system.

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Republican Senator Howard Marklein, who serves as the co-chair of the budget committee, is currently assessing the effects of the proposed plan. Moreover, in addition to the budget discussions, the Legislature is also deliberating Republican-backed bills that aim to prohibit race- and diversity-based financial aid at UW schools and tech colleges. However, it is expected that Governor Evers will veto these proposals to protect diversity efforts in higher education institutions.

While the future of the workforce development plan remains uncertain, the universities are determined to recover the funding necessary to strengthen education in the areas of engineering, healthcare, business, and computer science. As the ongoing budget negotiations unfold, the effects of these decisions on the universities’ commitment to diversity and inclusion will continue to be closely monitored.

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