University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross said that he is hoping for a flat budget for the UW System as he addressed a crowd of more than 200 Milwaukee professionals at the Milwaukee Business Journal Power Breakfast on Friday morning.
“I don’t know how we can avoid at least a flat budget in the next two years,” Cross said. “I’m not overly optimistic…I’m a realist about the future.”
He said that state politicians need to realize that the system is working hard to create efficiency needed to lock in a solid budget in the next two years.
Cross said that the UW System itself has had a 12 percent cut in staff, while other systems, such as information technology, are currently being reviewed.
Cross mentioned the importance of the UW System’s role in the state’s economy, and said although the university system is a large investment, it is a partnership worth making.
“The university has to be the best partner the state has,” Cross said. “It’s the university that the state should be helping.”
He also talked about the lack of actual reserves the university has, compared to reserves that are already allocated for various projects across the UW System.
After a state audit found more than $1 billion in UW System reserves in 2012, the system has often been criticized of sitting on money.
“Facts are sometimes allusive for the public,” Cross said.
He said that the system is trying to be more thoughtful of funding allocations, as well as setting a reasonable price for tuition after the freeze.
In front of the Milwaukee-based crowd, which included UW-Milwaukee’s chancellor Mark Mone and other UWM executives, Cross talked about a wrench created by a UWM professor that is being sold by the Kenosha based Snap-On Inc, bringing to life real life innovation that came from one of the UW campuses.
Metaphorically holding the tool Cross talked about balancing the system.
“We need leverage out assets, using the right tools to propel innovation,” he said.