UWSP faculty, leaders at odds over the future of the university

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- UW-Stevens Point faculty are at odds with university leadership over how to make up a budget shortfall.

In early November, UWSP leadership laid out a proposal called Point Forward. It's a plan that showed how they want to restructure and cut between $4 and $6 million from the budget to make up for an enrollment decline.

In late November, faculty sent a letter to the UW Board of Regents expressing a lack of confidence in UWSP leadership. Regents responded in December saying they fully support the leadership.

A petition was circled through UWSP faculty calling for an all-faculty meeting to address concerns about UWSP leadership. Last week, faculty got together again and laid out their concerns in a new letter.

"This was the first such meeting that anyone here on campus can remember in our history. There may have been one or two in place decades ago so this is not a regular occurrence," explained Dr. Jennifer Collins, Professor and Chair Faculty Council.

More than half of the faculty attended the meeting and together they came up with two lists.

The first one laid out choices the administration has made that they don't agree with like the Point Forward proposals. Which they argue damages the university's reputation and has created divisions within the campus. Also, the strategic plan which they said was created using misinterpreted data.

The second list is what they would like to see. Faculty asked for a complete list of positions that no longer exist and whether they were eliminated through layoffs, retirements or budget cuts. They've also requested a list of costs and cost savings that the Point Forward Plan would provide.

"The main purpose of the statement was to express in a collective way our desire to be fully part of the discussion and decisions that are being made along with other stakeholders on campus and in the community," said Collins.

NewsChannel 7 reached out to UWSP for a response to the letter and Chancellor Bernie Patterson issued this statement:

"We continue to follow the process established by our shared governance bodies and the UW System Board of Regents. The third report from our shared governance will provide recommendations to me by Feb. 22 regarding Point Forward, and I will make final recommendations to the Board of Regents by March 13. In addition, we are working to respond to requests made at a faculty meeting Feb. 8.
As I continue to meet with each department at the university, which I've done since November, I appreciate the opportunity to listen and learn, to provide information and answer questions. We will continue to ensure the university we love, and the students we are dedicated to serving, are on a path to success."

Collins said she heard back from UWSP leadership on Wednesday and they told her they are going to try and get those requests met.